Jurors Won’t Hear School Corruption Story


Dead men do tell tales, as the Sun-Sentinel proved this week.

Just not in court.

The dead former School Board construction chief Michael Garretson’s testimony against former School Board member Stephanie Kraft and husband Mitchell Kraft was plastered all over the Sun-Sentinel’s Internet site and newspaper.

Stephanie and Mitch: The Mug Shots

It is great, sexy, juicy story.   It’s the kind of story I lived for when I was at the Sun-Sentinel.

But it won’t mean anything when the Krafts go on trial for corruption.

It is highly likely that no juror judging the Krafts will hear this testimony.

The reason is that the Krafts can’t cross examine a dead man.  The U. S. Constitution guarantees an accused the right to cross examine their accusers.   

“I can’t see how any of that Garretson testimony is coming in.  A first-year law student, much less a circuit judge, would know that the Constitution requires an accused the right to confront their accuser, said one lawyer.  

Here is the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. (sic)

I think a 115-year-old Supreme Court ruling explains it the best:

 ”The primary object of the constitutional provision in question was to prevent depositions of ex parte affidavits . . . being used against the prisoner in lieu of a personal examination and cross- examination of the witness in which the accused has an opportunity not only of testing the recollection and sifting the conscience of the witness, but of compelling him to stand face to face with the jury in order that they may look at him, and judge by his demeanor upon the stand and the manner in which he gives his testimony whether he is worthy of belief.” (Mattox V. U. S. — 1895)

There are ways around the Sixth Amendment.  The lawyer I quoted doesn’t see one in this case.

Maybe State Attorney Mike Satz can get a New Age judge who can channel the spirit of Garretson?

Short of that or using a Ouija Board, Garretson’s testimony is just a tasty Sun-Sentinel story and nothing else.

Mike Garretson

Meanwhile, Garretson’s testimony really doesn’t prove much criminally.

First of all, he testified that he didn’t like Kraft.  That would tend to color anything he said and cries out for cross examination.

Second, Garretson gave no evidence that he knew why she was pushing the questionable development project for the Chaits. 

Garretson gave no evidence that he knew that the Chaits were paying the Krafts.  Without that evidence, there is no crime.  

He testified that Kraft told him the Chaits were supporters of hers.  No crime there.

The odious project to pave over a golf course was in her district. It would naturally interest her,  a point her defense attorney is sure to make.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again.

Was improper for Mitchell Kraft to work for the Chaits?  Yes.

Was it sleazy for the Krafts to go to bat for the Chaits?  Yes.

But sleazy and improper are not criminal.

This one still has to be proved. Not to me. But in a court of law.

5 Responses to “Jurors Won’t Hear School Corruption Story”

  1. Of Course Not says:

    Like I said before dead men tell no tales at least not in a court of law. That’s why the Krafts are yawning through this process. They may be crooked. It sure looks that way to us. But in the court room the law seems to be on their side. Please wake me up when the prosecution can make a case. Until then to all a good night.

  2. So True says:

    Buddy, you write like a lawyer.
    You are right. They have no evidence of a conspiracy. Garretson’s testimony was titillating and will never be heard in court. Even he didn’t say anything, other than Kraft pushed the project.

    Kraft was probably a crook. Satz has to go a long way to prove it.

    I hate to talk ill of the dead, however Garretson was an enabler who allowed all this School Board corruption. That’s why he needed to be cross examined.

  3. Lyn says:

    This is what I was wondering yesterday when the story broke. The defense has a right to cross, not really practical when the witness is deceased. Oh, well, score one for Ms. Kraft.

  4. Amazing Karnack says:

    Karnack says Buddy, Buddy, Buddy. Karnack says we know why you had the drop on others with the Marko story. Karnack says because your old insider friend the Big Cheese Lady fed it to you. Karnack remembers many other times when you used your position to support her. Karnack says you just can’t let it go can you. Karnack says you can say it before and you can say it again, you can say it any way you wan’t you just can’t tell it like it is with this one. Karnack says wrong is wrong and being one to spout so often from the right wing of the bully pullpit this just smells bad. Karnack says the Big Cheese Lady is the poster child for everything wrong with our government and society. Karnack says we all took it on the chin today. Karnack says not sure how giving away tax dollars at 30 percent to claim will get it back at 10 percent closes the deficit. Karnack says it must be the same way that paying people a salary to do nothing closes the deficit. Buddy, Karnack says making poor excuses for dirty politicians because they are your friend and then lecturing us about who is better at government makes you sound silly. Karnack says that’s your choice, Karnack will stick with the train. The train goes clickity clack, clickity clack, clickity clack.


    Buddy says Karmack misunderstands me.

    Buddy says I think that the Big Cheese is wrong and part of the problem.

    Buddy says – and wrote—that she and her husband are sleazy. Probably corrupt.

    Buddy says that the Constitution and the Rule of Law trumps everything.

    Buddy says nothing has been shown so far that proves the Big Cheese
    can be convicted. Buddy hasn’t seen the evidence.

    Buddy says sleazy and corrupt doesn’t automatically result in convictions.

    Buddy has seen dozens of corrupt pols who are walking around, making a living because nothing could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Buddy says, Thank God, for the Rule of Law. That’s what makes us better than so many other countries.

    Buddy says that the Big Cheese is gone. She is no more. She is not on the School Board.

    Buddy says we need to move on and be concerned on how to make a better future.

    Buddy says Karnack has always been welcome and I have always been on his/her side.

    Buddy says we have just have a communications problem, a “failure to communicate”, if I can quote the line from the movie Cool Hand Luke.

    And Buddy says he has no idea who Karnack is…except to say its not Johnny Carson.

    Buddy’s guess is that Karnack is old enough to know who Johnny Carson is and know about his Karnack bit.

    That would make Karnack as old as Buddy.

    Buddy says Karnack’s contributions and comments are always welcome here.

    Buddy thanks Karnack for reading Browardbeat.com. Maybe we’ll meet one day. Maybe we have already met.

    Buddy says Happy Holidays, Karnack.

  5. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    Nevins is right here. As much as I HATE Mitch Kraft who used to push his weight around in Tamarac and was laughed at behind his back for his lack of legal knowledge, nothing reprinted that Satz rleeased so far is criminal. All he has the testimony of two convicted criminals, the Chaits. It doesn’t seem like much of a legal case. The Florida Bar has different standards and I truly hope that I never see Mitch Kraft practicing law again.