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David Johnson's Florida Bar Ordeal

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David Johnson versus The Florida Bar

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
FROM ‘THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON’
by David Arthur Walters

WOE UNTO THOSE WHO FILE BAR COMPLAINTS

Allen Libow Esq. actually threatened David Johnson with “CAPE FEAR”

“It is truly not an exaggeration to state that in the combined twenty-five (25)
years of legal experience as a litigator and judge that this court has not seen a
more contentious and unfortunate case history as the instant litigation”. “The
instant litigation has not been aided by the fact that the Libow firm has been
primarily represented by Allen Libow’s father-in-law, Arthur W. Tifford, Esq. and
Mr. Libow’s sister-in-law, Alexandra L. Tifford, Esq. Unfortunately, their
involvement has only served to increase the personal tension between themselves
(inclusive of Mr. Libow) and David Johnson.”
What would you do if you found yourself in a situation where you were being forced by an
affluent and well connected member of the legal profession to choose between succumbing to his
legally and ethically questionable demand to pay $100,000 for a $1,621 legal bill you believed
you did not owe in the first place, or else submit to his inordinate power as a wealthy officer of
the court to financially ruin you? What if you thought his demand was a form of extortion, i.e. a

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coercive threat to wrench or twist money out of you, a threat that used to come under the broader
heading of “libel” in the old days?
What, indeed, would you do? Do you think you would complain to the agency responsible for
licensing and disciplining attorneys, all of whom must be members in order to practice in the
state? Think again, after taking the following into consideration.
The attorney may not hesitate to use every means at his disposal including his professional
monopoly’s privileged access to the courts to bludgeon you into silence, using the statements in
your complaint to the disciplinary counsel to sue you for multiple counts of libel, deliberately
prolonging the abusive process with flurries of motions in thousands of pages, and rewriting the
history of the case as it progresses by misstating what had been averred before, until your
defense funds are almost exhausted and you are thoroughly intimidated.
What? What happened to your constitutional right of free speech? What about your civil right to
address the government for redress of grievances? After all, lawyers are officers of the judicial
branch of government, are they not? And you sought redress from that branch of government,
never mind its inherent conflict of interest.
You might think that complaints filed with public agencies are absolutely privileged; that is, you
cannot be sued by the person you complain about even if you make defamatory statements to the
officials. Mind you that your allegations in your case were not otherwise published except that a
few of them were made to the attorney’s assistants during the course of business. This is not a
question of publishing true or false statements to a third party about private persons that happen
to harm their reputations.
Yes, you have your constitutional rights, and you may win your case in the end because the
lawsuit was frivolous and apparently maliciously prosecuted. But exercising your rights might
cost you a pretty penny. You prevail but that does not mean you will recover fees and expenses,
not if your attorney inadvertently botches the “offers of settlement agreement” leaving you to
find an attorney to sue your own attorney for malpractice, and that attorney makes a mistake that
costs you your claim. What bad luck! Your fees exceed $250,000, which you raised by taking
out mortgages on your home, but now you are left empty-handed, and are afraid to say anything
further about the matter to the Florida Bar lest you get slapped with another suit for petitioning
the government for redress of your grievances.
Knowing that this could happen to you, knowing that perhaps the attorney you complain about to
the disciplinary authority will use every means at his disposal including making false allegations
and manufacturing evidence to shut you up and ruin you financially, would you fight for your
constitutionally protected ground at all costs?
And what would you do if you decided to be a good citizen at all costs, and therefore pursued
your complaint, only to receive a response from the regulators clearly indicating that they had no
problem whatsoever with their licensee’s conduct?

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The message thereby conveyed to members of the Florida Bar by the Florida Bar would be that it
is all right to sue critics into silence; indeed, the Bar’s decision would encourage lawyers to do
just that with the blessing of their regulatory agency.
The dismissal of your complaint may come as a shock to you if you filed it in Florida, because,
before you filed it, the Florida Bar advised you to read its Consumer Information Pamphlet,
wherein ones find precautionary words under the heading “A Word About Confidentiality and
Immunity.” If you “limited your inquiry and communication about it to Bar staff,” reads the
clause, “investigators and grievance committee members; you should not be successfully sued.
While, generally, you cannot be successfully sued if you do not act in bad faith or with malice,
we emphasize successfully. The Bar cannot guarantee that the lawyer will not attempt to bring
legal action against you.”
As a matter of fact, the common law of Florida established in Stone v. Rosen, 348 So.2d 387
(Fla. 3d DCA 1977) and Tobkin v. Jarboe, 710 So.2d 975 (Fla. 1998) held that complaints
against lawyers filed with the Florida Bar are absolutely privileged. To wit, complainants are
immune from liability even though they acted in bad faith or with malice. The Florida Bar, which
has a monumental conflict of interest inasmuch as it is the “arm” of the self-regulating court with
inherent power to promote the interests of the legal profession as well as discipline members
who do not march in lockstep with it, will make no such guarantee simply because it wants to
weasel out of responsibility for selectively if not randomly enforcing its Rules against unethical
conduct.
Kenneth Marvin, Director of Lawyer Regulation for the Florida Bar, will be glad to send you a
letter with the text of Tobkin v. Jarboe attached so that you will know you are absolutely immune
from retaliation for filing a complaint, but he will not attach The Florida Bar v James Daniel
Eckert, File No. 2009-11,071 (6C), which shows that there is in fact a Rule than can be applied
and was in fact applied by the Bar to discipline a lawyer who threatened to sue a person for
defamation for filing a complaint with it.
What will the Florida Bar do if a lawyer actually brings such an action? Apparently nothing if
you are David Johnson or some other hapless victim of professional misconduct. Should not
there be a Bar Rule against such prosecutions, subjecting the attorney to suspension or
disbarment? Why has not the Bar done something to prohibit such travesties of justice? After all,
the Florida Supreme Court readily recognizes “the inequitable balance of power that exists
between an attorney who brings a defamation action and the client who must defend against it,”
so why does it not have its Bar arm nip such suits in the bud before they bloom in the courts?
Again, the Bar and the Court are one; what hypocrisy!
And what is the meaning of, “if you do not act in bad faith or with malice….” The courts have
had difficulty forging an adequate definition for those terms. Besides, you thought that absolute
privilege in making complaints to the government is supposed to protect you from liability for
statements thus defined. But witness how the pettifogging sophists cavil at their own
convenience, to make right seem wrong and wrong seem right, to manipulate facts to make two
entirely different things out of one, to prove that English law, no matter how civilly codified is
inherently irrational and absurd!

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A frivolous lawsuit by some attorney you complained about may cost you a quarter-million
dollars and your home to boot, not to mention years of emotional distress and perhaps your job
and family. Oh, my, it is sure nice to know that it was unsuccessful!
The Bar’s Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program may try to dissuade you from filing a
complaint against an attorney. Be careful of whom you complain about if the Bar does not
dismiss the complaint out of hand. The attorney may sue you and ruin your life if the Bar decides
to conduct an inquiry.
There are thousands of complaints filed against attorneys each year. The vast majority of them
are routinely dismissed. Forget about ascertaining a pattern of misconduct from dismissed cases:
The self-serving administrative rules require that all records including records that there were
records be destroyed in a year where no probable cause to charge an attorney is found; therefore,
if you go to the website and look up an attorney who may have had dozens of complaints filed
against him, all of which the Bar tossed or found no probable cause to prosecute, his page will
state that there has been no disciplinary action against him. Thus the Bar may also hide its own
negligence and malfeasance.
Complainants are at a disadvantage right out of the gate: they have to file their complaints under
penalties of perjury, but the lawyers do not have to respond under penalty of perjury – the Bar
Rules will supposedly keep them from lying. You may be charged with perjury if you lie in your
complaint, for your absolute privilege only protects you from the person you may have defamed;
but try to prove that the attorney lied and you may be sued again.
If you believe the above is too bad to be true and is merely hypothetical, you are mistaken: just
see Allen H. Libow and Libow & Shaheen LLP v David Johnson and Jane Johnson, decided in
the defendants’ favor by the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County, a decision roundly
affirmed by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal (Circuit Case No. 2005 CA 003299 AI,
and District Case Nos. 4D06-2242 & 4D08-1014).
In this case a win has thus far been a loss. Mr. Johnson will never recover from the emotional
damage Libow et al have done, but he has managed to find a lawyer to represent him in a
complaint against the Libows and the Libow law firm for malicious prosecution and abuse of
process, filed in the Palm Beach circuit court on January 24, 2011, Case No.
502011CA001121XXXXMB). It could take years to win or lose the case, and a win might be
another staggering loss, a pyrrhic victory leaving him and his family destitute.
To whom can one turn to for defense and then plead for recompense for injustice if he has
already exhausted his family’s savings protecting his family from a malicious prosecution?
Naturally, we might not feel very sorry for the family that has a quarter-million dollars if we
have much less than that, at least not until it has nothing, and even then the envious will be glad
about the loss. Your nest egg may be modest, say, a quarter million dollars, enough to tide you
over, perhaps until death if you are protected from catastrophic illness by a good insurance
policy. But there is no catastrophic insurance to protect you from unscrupulous lawyers willing
to bring a meritless suit against you and put you into financial straits from which you may never
recover. So forget your principles, pay the sophisticated thugs their protection fee.

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It is with that derogation in mind that we are left wondering whether the Johnsons should have
laid their principles aside to begin with. Maybe they should have coughed up the $100,000 cash
Mr. Libow and his affluent counsel and father-in-law Arthur W. Tifford demanded to drop the
case in the beginning or else—or else they would use the full extent of their professional
privilege to practice law to persecute him for filing a complaint against Libow et al with their
regulatory agency. After all, what good does it do to win a suit against you and lose your life’s
savings and peace of mind?
The 30,000 or so pages public documents are available to anyone who can afford to travel to the
Palm Beach County Court and invest a few weeks perusing them, or who can afford to pay
$30,000 or so to have the clerk send along images of the pages—the circuit court there like all
circuit courts in Florida other than pioneering Manatee County Circuit Court would rather not
have the public view its documents online although attorneys can e-file their documents. The
filings in Libow v. Johnson amply demonstrate how persons privileged with licenses to practice
law in Florida can use the judicial process in Florida to intimidate, silence and virtually destroy
anyone who files grievances against them with the government agency responsible for
disciplining them, and may do so without interference from and even with the tacit condonation
of the Florida Bar.
The Bar dropped one of Mr. Johnson’s serial complaints the day he admonished its staff to get
off their “bureaucratic asses” before the case wound up on the six-o’clock news. Bar counsel did
not like his “tone” that day; it was summarily decided then and there, as his malicious
prosecution at the hands of its licensed members was mounting, that there was no probable cause
for his complaint.
Mr. Johnson is admittedly vexatious when vexed; this Southern boy is not someone to wrangle
with. He was justly indignant, but indignation over injustice counts for nothing nowadays. Proper
appearances and correct attitudes are everything nowadays; superficies are everything, the
substance matters not. Displaying the correct attitude can win or lose a cause regardless of its
merits, a lesson many of us have forgotten since we learned to count to ten. His chances may
have been a lot better with some tone-counseling. Yes, he could be more even-toned, reasonable,
and even complaisantly ingratiating before petitioned authority no matter what imagined and real
abuses he might be suffering at the time of his plea, only reverting to an outraged, politically
incorrect tone off the record, well out of authority’s earshot. Mr. Libow would certainly not be a
good tonality tutor. During his perverse legal ordeal, Mr. Johnson observed how Mr. Libow
suddenly changed from cool cucumber in public court to a malignant madman in private
arbitration, using a purportedly bipolar disposition to his Rambo-like lawyer advantage.
However that may be, Mr. Johnson’s trenchant tone, caustic as it may be, should have bounced
off an experienced, buffeted bureaucratic ass like water off a duck’s back. But the Florida Bar
sat on its thumbs. Mr. Johnson refused to pay tribute to the powers that be, and now he continues
to be stretched to agonizing lengths on the judicial rack. The legal process does not seem to
rhyme with justice, but he is all in now, pursuing its rotating principle in the judicial casino. Will
the ball land on white or on black? Only fickle fortune can tell at this point.

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
Series: The Johnson Ordeal

AN EXEMPLARY LAWYER
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

Nothing in our series of articles on The Johnson Ordeal is intended to assert or to imply that any
of the lawyers and judges concerned actually committed crimes or breaches of professional
ethics in regards to the Johnsons. The Johnson Ordeal is merely a description of what Florida
lawyers may do for a living with the consent and condonation of the Supreme Court of the State
of Florida and its Florida Bar. The issue has been referred to the Florida Legislature in
conjunction with its efforts to amend the statute inhibiting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public
Participation.

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―David Johnson is a dead man!‖ Col. Arthur W. Tifford, Esq. concluded to himself out loud
after reviewing the plan he had sketched on the big white dry-eraser board erected in the Miami
office that he called his War Room. His motto was scrawled in red capital letters at the top of his
eraser board, and below that rubric was outlined the battle plan for Libow v. Johnson.

TAKE NO PRISONERS
Recruit Judge Hafele – Palm Beach Country Club
Play Zip Code Game
Use Sawyer’s Zip Code - Move Case to Judge Hafele
Dismiss Small Claim - Fool The Johnsons into thinking it’s over
Reopen Claim Without Notice – Have Clerk Insert into Docket Later
Rewrite History of Case – Fabricate or Twist Facts as Needed
Move to Strike Johnson’s Pleas & to Hold Him in Contempt for Fraud
Notice of Service to Circular File
Set Hearing for Ex parte Ambush In Absentia
Review Barred Discovery Docs With Hafele In Chambers
Hafele Affirms The Johnsons Fraud
Take Fraud Judgment to Circuit Court
Damn Forever The Johnsons For Fraud on Courts.
The litigious warrior in his tailor-made Brooks Brothers suit turned away from the planning
board and paced the office as he was wont to do, circling his war room counter-clockwise with
his hands clasped Napoleon-like behind his back. He paused along the way to gaze affectionately
at his diplomas from Queens College and Brooklyn Law School, and his admissions to the New
York and Florida bars and to federal courts including the military court. One plaque on the wall,
commending him for his special service to the Treasury Department, delights him the most; he
likes to confide to clients that it is really from ―The Agency,‖ to thank him for going on ―special
assignments‖ behind enemy lines in Vietnam. Is there is any truth to that, or to the rumor that
the Treasury Department actually honored him for turning in a client, the bagman for the Black
Tuna Gang, to the Internal Revenue Service?
In any case, he completed his tour of the office behind his desk, where he momentarily stood as
if he were a captain on the bridge of a Navy destroyer. He made sure all the pens and the stapler
thereon were perfectly aligned with one another before he sat down, and then he proceeded to
examine some papers. He extracted his gold-plated scissors from a top drawer and cut the ones
he did not want into 16 squares before shuffling and discarding them into his wastebasket. He
withdrew a compass and a Navy SEAL survival knife from a bottom drawer, gazed for a moment
at the compass as if to get his bearings, and then sharpened the knife with fierce intent, as if
preparing to butcher his worst enemy.
―Yes, indeed, I have him bagged. Johnson‘s a dead man!‖

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The artful representation above is based upon statements provided by a disgruntled intimate who
filed complaints about our exemplary lawyer with the Florida Bar.
The Johnsons‘ hard-earned assets were small potatoes in comparison to Tifford‘s big wins, but a
private dick looked at Johnson‘s house, and it was supposed that Johnson would rather cough up
$100,000, what is known in the trade as ―the sweet spot,‖ rather than shell out $250,000 in legal
fees to protect his family from the malicious prosecution of the attorneys, who had the enormous
advantage of a legal education and the comradeship of judges, and did not have to hire unrelated
attorneys to prosecute their side of the case. Besides, this Libow v. Johnson case was a family
matter: his daughter Melissa was involved. Wherefore Tifford appears to have masterminded the
search-and-destroy mission against Johnson and his wife Jane on behalf of his son-in-law, Allen
H. Libow, Esq.
On August 24, 2004, the Libow firm filed a complaint against Johnson in small claims court for
$1,621 in legal fees after offering to drop them if only Johnson would allow Libow firm to
continue to represent him instead of allowing Cynthia Becker, an attorney leaving the firm, to
take the case with her. Johnson had already paid a $5,000 retainer; the $1,621 was net of several
substantial adjustments made to the account, including a charge for simply calculating the fees
and costs, and for a court appearance that was not made. But the balance still included charges
for research that Johnson had expressly forbade the firm to conduct without his prior consent,
which he had not given. Fighting the small claim alone without benefit of counsel and being
outmaneuvered by Tifford would eventually cost him the small amount claimed plus an
assessment of $44,000 in fees and costs for the other side. He made the mistake of filing a
privileged complaint with the Florida Bar, for which he was pursued with a specious defamation
suit.
Little did Johnson know that he would be hounded by a bevy of nine attorneys in small claims
court, and then, after having his motion for a speedy trial dismissed, and after waiving a jury trial
in order to finally get a trial date set, that he would be hoodwinked by Tifford into thinking his
case had been dismissed so he would not appear for Tifford‘s ex parte ambush, and have his case
assigned to a certain small claims court judge recruited for the purpose by Tifford, Judge Donald.
J. Hafele, despite his desperate pleas to return it to a judge sympathetic with his disadvantage
against the bevy of licensed predators, Judge Johnson, who had barred the lawyers from
introducing discovery documents from circuit court into the county small claims court.
Neither did he suspect that he and his wife would eventually be facing six attorneys at a trial,
wherein Judge Hafele, after allegedly being recruited by Tifford for the prior ex parte ambush,
dismissed two of the three witnesses Johnson had subpoenaed, and refused to grant a
continuation so Johnson could serve the most important one, Allen Libow himself, who had
managed to evade service. Nor did he suppose that the trial judge would ignore the fact that the
law firm had stated that the file on which the fees were based had been stolen yet also swore that
the file had been reviewed, and would then doom Johnson, awarding the ravenous pack of
attorneys nearly $44,000 in fees and costs.
Now the layman may think it incredible that a small claims case on a $1,621 claim, where the
defendant is representing himself, would be pursued for over three years, and then more during
the collection process, by nine attorneys. After all, Rule 7.010 (a) of the Florida Small Claims
Rules reads: ―Title. These rules shall be cited as Florida Small Claims Rules and may be
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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
abbreviated ‗Fla. Sm. Cl. R.’ These rules shall be construed to implement the simple, speedy, and
inexpensive trial of actions at law in county courts.‖ David Johnson‘s fate in small claims court
is sad but true: he was crushed by Goliath.

Our exemplary lawyer, then licensed to practice in Florida and New York, but now disbarred in
both states, overcompensates for his slight build and baggy suit jackets with an invisible virtual
epaulette or gilded chips on his shoulders. He poses on his website in front of a bookcase filled
with uniform rows of law digests, advertising himself on his virtual shingle as a ―Military Judge‖
and as ―Judge Advocate General‖ as if he were in truth no less than General Arthur W. Tifford.

Capt Arthur Tifford, far right, being sworn in as special court-martial military judge
with others on August 1, 1969, at the First Marine Division Headquarters in Da Nang

In truth there happens to be only one Judge Advocate General at a time in the Navy, and Tifford
has never been one. He graduated from law school in 1967 and enlisted. He may have been
rather short but he was tall enough for the United States Marines to mightily boost his selfesteem. He was made a captain and appointed a special-court-martial magistrate attached to the
1st Marine Division in Vietnam. A special two-week training course, usually conducted in the
Philippines, was required to become a military magistrate as part of a last-ditch effort to curb
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rampant disrespect for authority and indiscipline among the troops, a state of affairs described as
a near collapse of the army.
Tifford is wont to claim that the Marines would have made him a general if only he had
continued with his special assignments in the jungles, where he says he personally put many men
into body bags. But he said his wife ordered him to stand down and decline the generalship
because she feared gravely for his life. Responsible for the successful court martial of two dozen
soldiers including three commissioned officers for marijuana offenses, he was already the most
likely JAG officer to be fragged by friendly snipers.
Capt. Tifford‘s task as a military judge in Vietnam would normally have been to handle
relatively minor offenses such as marijuana and insubordination. We painfully recall that drug
and alcohol abuse was widespread as a means of escape from the anxieties of the Vietnam War.
Insubordination was running rampant among the demoralized and disgruntled grunts that made
up most of the ground force actually fighting the war, which seemed from their perspective to be
a war on the peasantry on behalf of the Asian feudal landlords supported by Western
reactionaries for whom the promotion of mandatory communal sharing at their expense was a
capital offense.
Lawyers schooled in the English tradition may consider communist affiliations as treasonous
since a communist state has no ―independent‖ judiciary to protect the interests of the propertied
class. As Blackstone has wisely pointed out, the beginning of the study of English law should
appertain to its original service to land lords, asserting their legal right to their holdings however
gotten. That is, the prime objective of early English law was to maintain and enhance the
dominion of the lords over the realm, with necessary concessions to the populace governed.
Sadly, the gentleman lawyer and statesman, left to his own devices in competition with his kind
as organized against the rest, becomes a scourge on society as the profession becomes merely a
power-hungry, money-grubbing trade.
Vietnam was an opportunity for officers to accelerate their advancement, depending on the body
counts returned by search-and-destroy missions: the more kills, the higher the pay. If an officer
did not perform in terms of body counts, he would be rotated out for good. Officer tours were
only half the duration of enlisted men, anyway, which did not suit the rank and file. The casualty
rate among the high ranking officers was very low and the number of officers was large. Thanks
to the draft, there was plenty of fodder to risk in procuring higher enemy body counts. Fraggings
were on the rise along with insubordination, which had gotten so widespread that commanders
had to negotiate with troops to induce them to go into battle on some occasions, instead of courtmartialing and sentencing them to death for refusing to do so.
Capt. Tifford, who left the service as a colonel, claims to have contributed to higher body counts.
He was wont to brag to visitors to his Miami law office War Room that he worked in Vietnam as
an interrogator with the CIA, that he always got the information from prisoners that he wanted
before they were dispensed with. The notorious Phoenix program to which he seems to allude
was described by its critics as an indiscriminate assassination and arbitrary mass murder
operation designed to terrorize people into submission to dominant authority. Conspiracy
theorists claim that the program was rooted in covert operations that included, for example, the
assassination of Martin Luther King for his opposition to the Vietnam War, and the assassination
of John Fitzgerald Kennedy shortly after he had decided to withdraw troops from Vietnam. Of
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course patriotic lawyers refer to the Phoenix ―murders‖ as ―extra-judicial killings‖ if not
―perfectly legal executions,‖ legal at least according to the law of the land in which the war
occurs. Of course the ancient commandment is ‗Thou shalt do no murder‘ and not ―Thou shalt
not kill,‖ so legalized killing is not murder.
Tifford returned to Florida after a brief stint as an instructor at the Newport Naval Justice School.
He then served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Southern District of
Florida, where he specialized in fraud and racketeering. He went into private practice in 1972 as
a criminal defense lawyer, defending, for example, members of the infamous Black Tuna Gang
aka the Square Groupers in reference bales of marijuana, whose operations stretched from
Florida and the Caribbean up to Cape Fear—22,000 pounds of pot on one of their boats was
seized off Cape Fear. But that was a drop in the bucket: according to a defendant in United
States v. Phillips (664 F.2d 971), the gang handled a million pounds of pot in only one of the
four years covered by the indictment. Pot dealers are heroes today; Tifford himself stars in the
movie widely acclaimed by potheads, Square Groupers – The Godfathers of Ganja.

Scene from Square Grouper (marijuana bales)
When it became more and more difficult to assert certain civil rights defenses for drug dealers,
Tifford turned to representing persons charged with white collar crimes including stock fraud. He
touts a few big financial kills in the law business, including, most notably, the ones listed in the
National Law Journal‘s ‗Top 100 Verdicts‘ for 2001, 2003, and 2005. The awards total in the
hundreds of millions of dollars, probably more that the total take of the Black Tuna Gang, but the
liquidated value was far less. Suffice it to say that Tifford should be a multimillionaire today.
Civilian judges familiar with him call him ―Colonel Tifford.‖ We do not have his service record
at present, but it appears from the autobiographical material on his website that he was on active
duty for about four years. During the planned March 26, 2007, ex parte ambush of the Johnsons,
he represented to Palm Beach County Court Judge Donald W. Hafele that he is a retired colonel,
having serving the nation in the Marines for thirty years:
―Now, Mr. Johnson's portraying himself as ignorant and the victim of an overreaching law firm,
frankly, is part of his modus operandi, which goes beyond what is relevant to the Small Claims
dispute,‖ he averred. ―We've confronted (the) Circuit Court action almost to a disgusting level.
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And I would use that word even if he was standing here facing me during this hearing. What he
does is he attacks attorneys. He even attacked me three times during the first two sessions of his
deposition, calling me a—I'll use the abbreviation—AH, calling me a convicted felon, accusing
me of being in prison and having a cell mate, and on and on. I could only say that when I retired
my commission from the United States Marine Corp. (sic) I'm a Reserve, as a colonel, I didn't
think anybody at headquarters Marine Corp., during my 30 years with the Corp., ever thought I
was in prison and had a cell mate with a cell number, but that's another story for another day.‖
As a matter of fact, we can say today that Colonel Tifford was arrested, jailed, and convicted by
a jury in 1975 of two felony counts for conspiring to aid his client A.K Bronstein avoid detection
and arrest, and thus was charged with being an accessory after the fact. By virtue of a federal
writ of habeas corpus, he was released from the custody of the Florida Department of Offender
Rehabilitation in 1978. The state appealed and lost. The Supreme Court of Florida said the
federal decision was tantamount to an acquittal, but the Florida Bar was free to make inquiries
before reinstating Tifford to the bar. No inquiries were made, possibly because there was some
truth to the rumors that he was protected by the CIA or Treasury. He was reinstated without any
inquiry.
No doubt Tifford was projecting his Vietnam experiences onto Johnson, whose attacks on
attorneys, namely on the bevy of attorneys banded together to pursue him and his wife to hell
and back in the small claims, circuit, and appellate courts, constituted a sort of insurgency
against the noble patriotic profession rightfully dominating the nation.
Tifford‘s paranoia around the enemy led him to believe that Mr. Johnson had directly referred to
him in anal terms because Johnson had said that, although he was not a proctologist, he
recognized an ―asshole‖ when he saw one.
―So, it's your word against Mr. Libow as to whether or not you threatened him and his wife and
his children in that phone conversation?‖ asked Tifford, referring to Libow‘s allegation, which
he had made to the police—Johnson was not charged with anything, and claimed to the Florida
Bar that Libow had made a false police report to put further pressure on him to settle their
dispute.
―He never made any allegation that I did,‖ Johnson answered.
―He didn't?‖
―No.‖
―Well, what was that police report all about?‖
―He made the police report because he didn't realize they were going to ask him for his
documentation.‖
―Really?‖
―Yes.‖
―In addition to self-education, are you also a clairvoyant, Mr. Johnson?‖
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―Objection as to form, argumentative,‖ interjected Mark Perry, Johnson‘s lawyer.
―No.‖
―The facts are---―
―I'm not a proctologist either, Tifford, but I recognize an asshole when I see one.‖
―Well, stop looking at me when you speak those words.‖
―How apropos.‖
―Do you have anger issues, Mr. Johnson?‖
Johnson had every right to be angry with his flame-throwing provocateur—some rabbis say it is
a good thing to hate your persecutors, especially when they want to cut your throat and sacrifice
you to the pagan gods in a holocaust—the primitive priests got the fat, liver, and kidneys, while
the gods got the smoke. Besides, Johnson was simply reciting a wisecrack bandied about by
wiseacres. At the very most the anal reference might refer to any lawyer, or to Alaska residents
because it is a term of endearment in that state. But the term stuck to Mr. Tifford as far as Tifford
was concerned. He took it as a personal offense, and would indignantly complaint to Judge
Hafele about it. He and the judge no doubt thought that the vocalization had slandered every
member of bar and bench, as if an asshole were their common denominator.
The proctology statement came during a December 22, 2006, deposition Tifford took of Mr.
Johnson in the related circuit court case, where he was representing his son-in-law‘s firm. The
law firm of his son-in-law, Allen Libow, had sued both Mr. and Mrs. Johnson for defamation
because Mr. Johnson had filed a disciplinary complaint against him with the Florida Bar for his
aggressive fee collection tactics, comparing him to the notorious outlaw, Jesse James. Johnson‘s
impassioned letter of complaint to the Florida Bar deserves quoting in full:
August 16, 2005
The Florida Bar
651 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300
To Whom It May Concern:
On January 20, 2004 I retained the legal services of Ms. Cynthia Becker to
represent me as the Plaintiff in a civil action against a Realtor. Ms. Becker was at
the time of retention an associate of the law firm of Libow & Muskat LLP in Boca
Raton, Florida. On or about June 4, 2004, I received a phone call from Cynthia
Becker, informing me that she was leaving the firm of Libow & Muskat and
starting her own practice. She advised me that she was taking, “her clients” with
her and asked me if I was amenable to that. I had a five-figure sum of money
invested in this litigation and a very important motion scheduled for hearing just
days away.
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This, after a four-month delay, which was the result, I am told, of the failure to
file the proper documentation with the court in a timely manner. That delay was
coupled with an additional $3000+ in legal fees. However, I acquiesced and a
retainer agreement and substitution of counsel was e-mailed to me the same
day by Ms. Becker.
Shortly thereafter I received a telephone call from Allen Libow. Up to that point I
had never had any interaction or communication whatsoever with anyone at
Libow & Muskat other than Ms. Becker.
The phone call from Mr. Libow turned out to be a concentrated effort by him to
talk me out of allowing Ms. Becker to represent me. Initially, Mr. Libow limited
his sales pitch to expounding on the virtues of “his firm’s” legal expertise and
resources. It soon digressed into defamatory remarks about the integrity and
competence of Ms. Becker, whom he claimed was working out of a suitcase. His
derogatory remarks about a fellow attorney caught me off guard.
Please keep in mind that I had an important hearing that was scheduled just days
away. According to invoices received from Libow & Muskat, most of the
additional fees were for “legal research” done by Ms. Becker in preparation for
the impending hearing. This hearing was originally scheduled for February. I was
originally told that the hearing had to be rescheduled because of some faux pas
by opposing counsel. Mr. Libow was eager to tell me that the hearing had
actually been rescheduled because Ms. Becker had failed to file the proper
documentation with the court in a timely manner. Mr. Libow spent the better
part of half an hour trying to convince me to let his firm represent me. His sales
pitch consisted primarily of disparaging remarks about Ms. Becker’s competency
and integrity. When I mentioned the excessive fees, he told me that Ms. Becker
had a bad a habit of “over billing her clients for legal research”. He told me that I
was only one of many clients of Ms. Becker that had complained about excessive
fees. He went on to tell me that because of that, he was forced to make
“adjustments” to the bills of some clients. I was told that in one case that the
“adjustment” was nearly $11,000. During our conversation, Mr. Libow
repeatedly offered to “wipe the slate clean”, saying that I wouldn’t “owe him a
dime”. The more I resisted letting Mr. Libow represent me, the more
defamatory his remarks with regard to Ms. Becker became.
He told me of how ungrateful she was, as he had made a lot of effort to
accommodate her “special needs”. (Ms. Becker uses a wheelchair.) He told me
she was, “fired from her last job for incompetence”, and, that if I had any hope
of prevailing in my litigation then I would let him and “his firm” represent me.
The insults poured out of this man like rain. It didn’t take me long to develop a
strong dislike for Mr. Libow. I politely terminated the phone call from Mr. Libow
with a promise to call him back after speaking with my wife about the

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developments. His parting comment was, “remember, you won’t owe me a
thing, we will start with a clean slate”.
My wife and I were devastated by these developments. We had all this time,
money, aggravation and emotion tied up in this litigation and through no fault of
our own here we were in the middle of a war between two attorneys. I waited
more than an hour before calling Ms. Becker. I needed the time to gain my
composure and get in the frame of mind to decide how I was going to handle this
situation.
My wife and I decided that, at this time, it would serve no purpose to inform Ms.
Becker of all the venomous comments of her old boss. We needed Ms. Becker to
represent our interests at this upcoming hearing and we didn’t want to say or do
anything that might detract her from that task.
When I finally phoned Ms. Becker I did tell her that we had been contacted by
Mr. Libow.
Without going into very much detail I told her that her old boss was not very
happy about her sudden departure. I also told her of some of his comments and
of his offer to “wipe the slate clean”. She told me that Mr. Libow had phoned her
as well and that the phone call had ended up in a screaming match. We talked
about many issues including the upcoming hearing. Ms. Becker was very
confident of our position and the probabilities of prevailing. As such, we told her
to e-mail us her Retainer Agreement and the consent To Substitution Of Counsel.
She did, we signed them both and faxed them back to her.
As promised, I phoned Mr. Libow back to advise him of our decision. To say the
least, he was not happy. It was more of the same. I had had just about as much
of Mr. Libow and his venom as I could stand. I told him so, and hung up the
phone. Mr. Libow’s quest for revenge began almost immediately. He refused to
sign the consent form for substitution of counsel. In an effort to glean more fees
and drive up my expenses he set what would ordinarily be a routine matter for
docket and hearing before the court.
On 7/7/2004 I received the attached demand letter (exhibit A) from Chad Laing,
an associate of Libow & Muskat. My problems with this demand letter were
twofold: 1) Per Mr. Libow, I was “over-billed” by Ms. Becker, and 2) when last
we spoke, Mr. Libow told me that in light of said “over-billing” that, “I didn’t owe
him a dime”. I sent the attached response by e-mail (exhibit B) to Mr. Laing the
same day I received his demand and asked him to substantiate his claims.
A week later I received the requested information. Attached are the last two
pages of that document (exhibit C). You will notice that Mr. Libow seeks to
charge me $397.57 for efforts that his associate(s) allegedly made to comply
with my lawful request for substantiation of their claim. According to the revised
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bill it took his associate(s) 1.80 hours at $200 an hour to mail me a 13-page
computer generated document. You will also notice that the alleged work was
done on 6/29 and 6/30, a full week before my request of 7/7/2004. As you know,
State and Federal law mandates that Mr. Libow is statutorily obligated to invoice
his clients without benefit of remuneration. Mr. Libow also knows that.
Jessie James used a horse and a six-gun to carry out his robberies. Mr. Libow
uses a computer and the United States Mail to carry out his. I have since been
told by Ms. Becker that what happened to me was not unique, but was in fact
standard practice with regard to what Mr. Libow considered to be his “less
sophisticated clients”.
In response to Mr. Libow’s revised demand, I sent him a certified letter (exhibit
D) advising him that among other thing I did not consider his invoice to be a valid
debt. I cautioned him of the likely consequence should he persist in his demands.
At the same time, I e-mailed a copy of that letter to his office. When Mr. Libow
and/or his associates tried to contact me by phone that same day I sent them
the attached e-mail (exhibit E) dated 7/15/2004, advising them that all
communications between us should be reduced to writing. My experience with
these people up to that point was a strong indication that they could not be
trusted. In light of that I thought it best that all communications between us
should be in writing, and so they were.
Mr. Libow persisted with his demands and a torrent of e-mails went back and
forth between us. My impression of Mr. Libow was that he was a spoiled brat
that was accustomed to getting his way. He had no regard for whom he hurt,
whom he slandered or whom he stole from. Mr. Libow was the center of his own
universe and everything revolved around him. It was becoming equally apparent
that there was no depth to which this man would not stoop to gain some
advantage. At one point Mr. Libow accused me of being anti-Semitic. (exhibit F)
In another, he accused Ms. Becker of among other things, civil theft (exhibit G).
The only thing I ever threatened Mr. Libow with was legal action if he did not go
away and leave us alone. I never once threatened to do anything unlawful or
physical to Mr. Libow or anyone else. At this point all communication between
us had been via e-mail, so, this is an easily verifiable fact. However, that fact
would not prevent Mr. Libow from contacting the Boca Raton Police Department
and the Jacksonville Police Department, concocting a story and filing a false
police report. He claimed that I had made physical threats against him and that
he and his family were in eminent danger of physical violence from me. (exhibit
G “1”)
This attorney, made a calculated effort to gain some advantage in this civil
controversy and at the same time avoid his ethical obligations as dictated by
(DR-7-105 rules; 4-3.1, 4-4.4, 4-8.4 (c) and 4-8.4(d)). Apparently this pathetic
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excuse for a man went home and convinced his wife that she and her children
were in eminent physical danger from me. This obviously had the desired effect
on Ms. Libow and a police report claiming imminent physical violence was filed
against me with the authorities.
This incident speaks volumes as to the character and total absence of ethics in
Mr. Libow. Now one of two things has happened. Either this man had no
compunction whatsoever about frightening his wife and children in a calculated
attempt to gain some advantage in this controversy, or his wife is his coconspirator. I don’t believe the latter to be the case. I suspect that it is possible if
not probable that Mr. Libow modified (forged) some of the e-mails in order to
accomplish the desired effect on his wife. Also, I am told that his wife is on the
verge of divorcing him for other transgressions; perhaps this is why he had no
compunction about scaring her and involving her in this controversy.
An example of Mr. Libow’s propensity for and expertise at twisting the truth to
suit his psychotic agenda can be found on exhibit “G”. After convincing his wife
to file a (false) police report on me, he says, “I too will be forced to provide an
information statement concerning your physical threats of “taking me task” etc”.
Well, on the third from last paragraph of exhibit “D” you will find the quote that
he refers to. In total it says that I will, “seek every lawful remedy available to me
under every relevant authority to take you to task for your transgressions.”
Now, you have to be a pretty creative, twisted, lying son of a bitch to convince
your soon to be ex- wife to report that to the police as a “physical threat”. This
man deserves to be disbarred. He is a pathological liar. He is intellectually and
emotionally unfit for his position of trust in the community. And he is a disgrace
to his profession.
I have just learned that on August 4, 2004 Mr. Libow sued my wife and I in Palm
Beach County Court. He could have simply filed his threatened charging lien. But
no, that wouldn’t allow him to inflate the costs and expenses would it?
Mr. Libow has wrought untold damage on my wife and I. The litigation that we
are so heavily invested in is falling apart, thanks in very large part to Mr. Libow.
Something needs to be done to protect the public from the likes of Mr. Libow
and his band of thieves. I believe that’s your job.
Sincerely,
David & Jane Johnson
Cc Florida Attorney General’s Office
The Federal Trade Commission
Governor Jeb Bush

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Mrs. Johnson had not actually signed the Bar complaint, but apparently Mr. Johnson had signed
his name alone at the bottom between ―Sincerely‖ and “David and Jane Johnson,‖ so Libow
admittedly made her a party to the suit in hopes of getting all the Johnson property whether held
jointly or severally, something that would irk David Johnson to no end.
Johnson would later infer from court records that Libow‘s firm, with the assistance of Arthur W.
Tifford, Libow‘s father-in-law, appeared to have quite a racket going, and he supposed that he
was one of their unwitting victims. All told, he said that 81 of clients of Libow‘s firm would
eventually be sued after their lawyers departed the firm. For example, one lady who allegedly
owed only $187 wound up settling for $11,000 rather than pay an attorney to defend a claim for
more. As for departing attorneys, Johnson said he counted 12 attorneys who sued Libow after
they departed. That information was reported to the F.B.I. in 2014, along with hearsay alleging
that Tifford asked his son-in-law to help him set up an offshore account to keep Tifford‘s fortune
secure.
Johnson did not actually send copies of the letter to the Florida attorney general and governor,
and the Federal Trade Commission. Even if he had done so, reasoned the appellate court in his
favor, the publication to agencies besides the Florida Bar would not make the communication
actionable as defamation because we cannot expect people to know exactly what government
offices are responsible for handling particular complaints. Indeed, many complaints feel like ping
pong balls after being paddled back and forth between government agencies.
Johnson‘s counterclaim against the Libow‘s firm was that it had violated debt collection and
trade practices law.
Fee shakedowns were nothing new to Florida at the time. David J. Stern would become notorious
for running a mammoth ―robotic litigation‖ operation, signing and filing false affidavits in
foreclosure cases after the Great Recession led by Florida‘s overheated real estate collapsed. As
far back as 2000, Stern had been ripping off clients for excessive fees. Characteristically, the
Florida Bar did not follow through back then on its original suspicions that Stern had acted
contrary to honesty and justice, collecting excessive fees and making false statements, and other
unethical behavior. The Florida Bar via the Florida Supreme Court merely doled out the lowest
possible discipline, a public reprimand. He settled a class action suit regarding questionable fee
collections for $2.2 million in 2000. Another class action suit filed 2009 in Palm Beach County,
the very county where Libow was operating, sought damages under Florida‘s debt collections
practices statute and Florida‘s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Other causes of action
stated by various plaintiffs included causes under the Federal Debt Collections Practices Act,
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and securities fraud. So, while Stern‘s
business grew to have 1,200 employees, becoming, in 2010, the largest foreclosure filer in
Florida, processing upwards of 75,000 cases a year, with each lawyer handling 2,500 cases at a
time, he was gaining a reputation for malpractice violation of ethical standards.
During the course of the Libow vs. Johnson small claims court litigation, at the February 1, 2005,
hearing in the Palm Beach County Court, one Eric J. Stockel, a lawyer with Libow‘s firm, Libow
& Shaheen LLP, now representing Libow‘s former firm, Libow & Muskrat LLP, and also
counter-defendants and counter-plaintiffs Allen and Melissa Libow, against whom the Johnsons
had filed a counterclaim which they had to counter, indicated that the Libows were countering
the Johnsons counterclaim against them with a suit against the Johnsons for defamation, claiming
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damages in excess of $15,000, an amount that would require moving the case to the circuit court
where the complicated rules of procedure would apply. That would force David Johnson, who
was appearing pro se without benefit of counsel, to go to the expense of hiring a lawyer to
defend himself and his wife, while the Libow firm kept the case in house at no expense to the
firm other than court costs. Stockel said that since the small claim had been filed on August 4,
2004, a great deal of correspondence had gone back and forth between the parties, therefore the
defamation counterclaim for relief in excess of the court‘s $15,000 jurisdiction.
Judge Debra Moses Stephens said she could not see how there could possibly be more than
$15,000 in damages. Stockel responded that, according to the rules of general pleading, the
actual amount of damages does not have to be stated: all you have to do is say they are more than
$15,000.
THE COURT: Okay. If you would please be patient with me and help me to
understand, I do not understand how you can get yourself into Circuit Court
without saying specifically what your damages are that bring you there.
MR. STOCKEL: Again, the general rules of pleading and it‘s a notice state, as
Your Honor is aware, you just need to present the allegations that the claim is
being brought in excess of the minimum jurisdictional requirements of that court.
In this case for defamation we‘re seeking, you know, the damages sought thereto,
the publication of that, the filing of certain documents with both the Florida Bar
which is permitted but Governor Jeb Bush, the Federal Trade Commission, other
areas where that was sent…..
THE COURT: Thank you. And the reason I‘m going over this with you so
carefully is because the last time we were here Mr. Johnson had filed a
counterclaim which claimed a jurisdictional amount that would have put it in the
Rules of Civil Procedure and he withdrew that jurisdictional amount because he
believed that if he went into – if they used the Rules of Civil Procedure that he
would be completely lost.
MR. STOCKEL: Okay.
THE COURT: And so it seems strange that now we come back and have a -- now
a lawsuit filed in which in effect takes it into Circuit Court. I have to be very sure
that – and this is no reflection on you but just to state because the Court has to be
neutral, I have to be sure that bringing this into Circuit Court is not a ruse to get
where you want it to be prior to this.
MR. STOCKEL: I understand, and I anticipated Your Honor questioning me on
that. Subsequent to that hearing in the meantime there have been several
correspondences back and forth via e-mail and regular mail. This is not a matter
of the record at this point in time, and I present it to Your Honor with the
acknowledgment that Mr. Johnson has not seen a copy of this document. We
believe this is a letter that Mr. Johnson prepared and sent to Melissa Libow and
would support this evidence of the defamation claims….

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THE COURT: Mr. Johnson, it‘s probably time to get you in on this. Did you send
a letter to Mrs. Libow?
Mr. JOHNSON: No, ma‘am, I certainly did not.
THE COURT: You haven‘t sent anything to her?
MR. JOHNSON: No, ma‘am, I certainly did not.
THE COURT: You haven‘t sent anything to her?
MR. JOHNSON: No, ma‘am. And if you‘d like to swear me in, I‘ll swear to it.
David Johnson had already been worried to no end by the lawyer who had engaged him in the
complicated legal process. He sat down and wrote another letter to the Florida Bar, referencing
email exchanges with Libow:
October 12, 2004
The Florida Bar
5900 N. Andrews Avenue
Cypress Financial Center, Suite 900
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309
Attention: Lillian Archbold and Joel Klaits
Re: Recent Threats and Extortion Demands from Allen Libow.
See attached e-mails
Dear Ms. Archbold and Mr. Klaits:
Attached are the most recent e-mails between Allen Libow and myself. Please
take note that Mr. Libows threats have taken on a more psychotic tone. Mr.
Libow initiated contact, I responded.
The first e-mail is from Allen Libow to me. It is dated 10/08/2004 @ 2:25pm. Mr.
Libow has taken exception to one of the nine grounds for a change of venue that
are enumerated separately within said motion for change of venue. He threatens
me with a 57.105 action unless I agree to withdraw the motion in total. Attached
as Complainants exhibit “Z” is a copy of the motion to which Allen Libow refers.
The second e-mail is from me to Allen Libow. It is dated 10/09/2004 @ 6:10pm. I
respond to Mr. Libows threats. I advise him that I acted in good faith. I advise
him that the alleged agreement that he attached to his civil suit was in fact an
un-dated un-executed copy. I felt that an undated unsigned agreement would be
unenforceable, so, I included that position as one of nine (9) enumerated within
my motion for a change of venue. In the e-mail, I go on to expound that, my
allegation (the one he took exception to) was supported by his evidence and
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thus a lawful point to be made. I suggest that he do some case research to verify
same. Mr. Libow does not take any exception to that argument. I advise him that
I hope to see him in a court of law here in Jacksonville. In describing his chances
of success with regard to his civil suit against my wife and I, I carelessly used the
word “doom”. I temporarily forgot Allen Libow’s propensity for twisting
whatever someone says into something that will fit within his “psychotic
agenda” du jour.
The third e-mail is from Allen Libow to me. It is dated 10/11/2004 @ 10:53am.
Mr. Libow wastes no time twisting my words. He has seized upon an opportunity
to revive his wild accusations of “physical harm or death”. He insinuates that I
plan to smuggle a weapon to court and reminds me that they have a, “metal
detector”. He goes on to say that he will enlist the services of a police officer to
escort he and his associate from the parking lot to the courthouse. Not
surprisingly his position is an exaggeration to the extreme. I believe him to be
mentally unstable. That makes him dangerous to himself and others.
The forth e-mail is from me to Allen Libow. It is dated 10/11/2004 @ 11:38am. I
make an effort to set the record straight. The e-mail speaks for itself.
The fifth e-mail is from Allen Libow to me. It is dated 10/11/2004 @ 4:06pm.
This e-mail also speaks for itself. Mr. Libow is delighted that we (my wife and I)
“never really had a lawyer”. He subsequently DEMANDS that I provide him, “with
available deposition dates for you and your wife over the next three weeks”.
This, for a $1,600.00 lawsuit in small claims court that he reasonably should
know has no such provision or requirement. He further advises that should I fail
to succumb to his demands that. “I will unilaterally set the dates for you and
your wife”. He then proceeds to try and extort money from us. He says, “my wife
and I will walk away for $100.000.00”. He ends by claiming that his extortion
attempt is in fact “a proposal for settlement” and thus “inadmissible in any
proceeding before a court of law”
How much longer is Bar Counsel going to permit this psychotic misfit to abuse
the process of law. This lawyer is totally out of control and uses the legal system
not as a tool for resolution but as a weapon of harassment and intimidation. This
is without a doubt one of the most psychologically disturbed individuals that I
have ever encountered. Something must be done to protect my wife and I and
the rest of the public from this mentally un-balanced individual.
PLEASE ADVISE, ASAP
I remain sincerely,
David Johnson

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CC by fax to the law office of Libow & Muskat
Attention: Allen Libow
Libow and Johnson had exchanged several other rather heated if not flaming emails in
conjunction with the small claims case. Libow offered to settle the case for $100,000 or else,
implying that he would bury Johnson in the perverse legal process if he refused. At one point, as
we have seen, he called the police to say he had been threatened, and he even accused Johnson of
a hate crime because he, Libow, happened to be Jewish.
Libow even went so far in one of his email communications to identify Johnson with the January
2005 murderer of Libow‘s babysitter, Shanette Jones, and her two daughters, Ashley and Joanna
Robinson—the family had made a lot of money in real estate; Libow would represent Shanette
Jones‘ parents in the wrongful death civil suit. Most alarming was Libow‘s ―CAPE FEAR‖ email
to Johnson. Johnson did not realize that he was dealing with a legal mafia whose main stock in
trade is legalized extortion, so he filed the complaint with the Florida Bar.
Little did Libow and Tifford know that Johnson would rather die in battle than abandon his ship
to a piratical Black Beard carrying letters patent—a law license. The defamation case in circuit
court dragged on and on, as did the small claims case in the county court, thanks to the dilatory
and vexatious tactics of the Libow faction in its futile effort to shake Johnson down. A small
claims case is supposed to be resolved in at least six months, but over four years passed while all
the while Johnson was begging for a speedy trial. Still, Johnson was not about to be extorted by
the legal profession: he was a pitbull clenching the bone of justice, far worse in terms of tenacity
than the lawyers the Bar tried to discipline for advertising themselves as pitbulls. He himself had
said he would be willing to use the lawyer‘s tactic, burying his opponent in legal minutia, rather
than pay a bill that was not due, although he had not actually done that in the small claims case
nor had his attorney Mark Perry resorted to it in the circuit court case.
Johnson, being deposed by Tifford on December 22, 2006, was referred to what he had written in
an email exchange with Libow in 2004:
"Buy yourself a helmet. Before I send you $2,000 that I don't owe you, I'll spend ten times that
much to bury you so deep in litigation and legal minutia that you won't have time to scratch your
ass."
Recognizing legal extortion for what it was, extortion, Johnson had even dared to pronounce it as
such during the deposition:
―If you think I'm going to roll over and write you a check,‖ he explained, ―you have got another
thing coming. You better prepare yourself for a battle, because I'm letting Mr. Libow know that I
am not going to be like the other 20 people that you and he managed to extort some settlement
out of by threatening them.‖
―Did you just accuse me of extortion, Mr. Johnson?‖ Tifford asked, as if his professional had not
legalized extortion for its own benefit as well as its clients, twisting arms behind people‘s back
every day so that the wealthy power elite with superior resources might win their cases without a
trial.
―What are we sitting here for right now?‖
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―Excuse me, Mr. Tifford,‖ interjected Johnson‘s attorney, trying to interrupt a line of questioning
obviously intended to imply that Johnson was defaming him by accusing him of the felonious
crime of extortion, although knowing full well that Johnson had resorted to what is known in the
defamation trade as hyperbole, which is not actionable in Florida defamation cases if the judge in
his infinite wisdom feels he wants it to be hyperbole instead of a statement of fact. As far as
Johnson was concerned, it was defensible as a true statement; extortion is what lawyers regularly
do and have a license to do: they extort concessions from people, which is perfectly legal and
ethical according to the courts and bar associations. But lawyers have difficulty calling a spade a
spade when they are the spade.
No doubt former judge advocate Tifford was convinced that he had an insurgent, a ‗Charlie,‘
before him on the grill, one that should be bulldozed into a pit with the others after being grilled
and stripped of his life.
―Is what we are doing today extortion, Mr. Johnson?‖
―Mr. Tifford…‖ Perry tried to intercede again.
―Oh, my God, yes,‖ Johnson confessed.
―Okay, continue….‖
Now Tifford had more ammunition he could use against Johnson, purportedly a confession that
Johnson was not only a ―contenacious‖ (sic) person but a slanderer as well! The circuit court
case was all about defamation. And Tifford would introduce this circuit court deposition in small
claims court at the March 26, 2007, ex parte hearing before Judge Hafele, contrary to three court
orders prohibiting him from introducing any discovery whatsoever.
Furthermore, during the December 22, 2006, deposition, Col. Tifford, the Rambo litigator posing
as a gentleman lawyer, would imply that Johnson was what any insurgent worth his rice paddy
must be, an armed terrorist. Tifford dwelled on Johnson‘s email advice to Libow after Johnson
had perceived that Libow was trying to extort money from him:
"Once your threatened bullet has left the barrel, no matter what you do, you can't recall it. If you
are of a mind to take that shot, then that is your prerogative. Be advised that after you do, you
should clear your calendar and buy yourself a helmet."
Of course Tifford knew very well from his history lessons that our modern trials evolved from
trial-by-combat, where might rather than right proved the case, and he was determined to beat
Johnson to a pulp over his metaphors, pretending they were not metaphors.
―Do you know what a metaphor is, Mr. Tifford?‖ posed Johnson.
But of course Tifford knew what a metaphor was—an opportunity to take it literally to prove a
man mad enough to assault a lawyer ala Cape Fear.
―I'm asking you, what was the helmet for, Mr. Johnson?‖ Tifford persisted, no doubt recalling
the feel of the helmet he sometimes wore in Vietnam.
―Do you know what a metaphor is, Mr. Tifford?‖
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―Are you going to answer my question?‖
―It was a metaphor.‖
―Was it really a metaphor?‖
―Yes.‖
―It wasn't a threat, Mr. Johnson, to do physical violence? Was it a threat to do physical violence,
Mr. Johnson?‖
―No.‖
―You didn't have a flashback to any of those earlier assaults and batteries…‖
―Objection.‖
―…you told me about, Mr. Johnson?‖
―Objection. Don't answer the question. We'll go to court on that one.‖
―Did you have a flashback to those earlier assault and batteries?‖
―No.‖
―Not a single one?‖
―No, because, you see, Mr. Tifford, unlike your client, I'm not psychotic. I don't take any
psychotic drugs.‖
―David, just answer his questions.‖
―I don't smoke dope. I don't take Effexor or things like Xanax…‖
―Keep it coming, Mr. Johnson.‖
―…or smoke dope and hashish. I don't do any of those things.‖
―You just take people in the back yard and beat them up, if they have got it coming.‖
―Let's take a break,‖ Perry suggested, noting that the proceeding was becoming too
argumentative.
No doubt former U.S. Marine judge advocate Tifford, perhaps himself having an acidic
―flashback‖ to Vietnam given the popularity of LSD back then, must have figured he was
bringing out the ‗Charlie‘ in Johnson. After all, Johnson had emailed Libow that arrogance and
stupidity go hand in hand, and that he had ―taken to school‖ several people who could only learn
by experience, spending considerable time and money in doing so. He stated in the deposition
that he was referring to a company he worked for; that it took debtors to court; that he made the
decision whom to pursue, taking into account any legitimate excuses the debtors might have, but
if someone told him to go to hell, refusing to pay, he sent them to school i.e. court.
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The drug references were related to Libow‘s admission to taking prescription drugs to allay his
anxiety, and to rumors from alienated partners that he had inhaled; the legal profession‘s
―grunts‖ are as disposed to resort to such escapes from combat fatigue and hysteria as were the
grunts in Vietnam—the Florida Bar diverts lawyers to rehab programs to salve the symptoms
instead of disbarring them, but that does not extirpate the roots of the contention disease, for that
would end the practice of law as we know it. Alas that drugs prescribed by psychotherapists can
make the cure worse than the disease. Johnson had no sympathy for Libow after an attempt at
Christian charity was rebuffed, but an examination of the public records in this case gives us
some cause for sympathy with Libow, whom Johnson called ―crazy as a shithouse mouse‖ in the
deposition, and to wonder why his father-in-law did not get the beleaguered lawyer into rehab
instead of a monumental defamation case.
As for the Tifford‘s reference to assault and batteries, Johnson had gotten into fisticuffs between
what he would call ―consenting adults‖ some thirty years prior, brawls that he referred to as
taking opponents to school in the alley. He would insist that they were harmless fights which the
police broke up, arresting him for brawling, but no one was hurt, and his record is clean because
he was never convicted of assault and battery.
Now Tifford might have been pleased with the results of his interrogation of Johnson in the
circuit court case at the time, for he would some of the results as ammunition in his ambush.
Mind you that it was not going well at all for Libow or Tifford when Tifford decided to ambush
Johnson in absentia at the March 26, 2007, ex parte hearing in the small claims court. Judge
Hafele was either defrauded in that hearing or had been enlisted into the plot by the Libow
faction, perhaps at a country club if not elsewhere.
Bar counsel sat on the Johnson‘s complaints and follow ups, causing Johnson to refer to their
bureaucratic asses, a reference that appears to have forever doomed his complaints to the circular
file from which they could not retrieved after one year.
The defamation case would wind up in the circuit court and the fee claim would stay in the small
claims court. Ultimately Johnson would lose the fee case, and the defamation case would be
pursued against him in the circuit and appellate courts until he finally won years later.
Although another small claims court judge, Judge Johnson (no relation), had expressly prohibited
Libow from introducing information discovered in the circuit court process in small claims court,
Tifford, with small claims court Judge Hafele on board, planned all along to use material from a
December 22, 2006, circuit court deposition Johnson in an March 26, 2007, in a small claims
court ambush. The masterful trickster had led Johnson to believe the small claims court case had
been dismissed, but he had the case switched over to Hafele over in the North Palm Beach
County courthouse for an ex parte hearing, surreptitiously reopening it behind Johnson‘s back.
The Honorable Donald W. Hafele, who had served in the county small claims court since 1999,
would be referred to as the ―Big Fixer‖ after he was appointed in 2008 to the Palm Beach Circuit
Court by Governor Crist (who was a great friend of now imprisoned fraudster-lawyer Scott W.
Rothstein) allegedly for the express purpose of hearing litigation over the governor‘s grandiose
$2 billion plan to restore the Everglade‘s ―missing link‖ by buying all of U.S. Sugar‘s
agricultural land there so it could be returned to a more or less pristine state in order to allow
water to flow naturally, south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. According to
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anonymous West Palm Beach detractors venting on the Internet, the judge is so dishonorable,
dishonest, abusive, unethical, prejudiced, biased, and ego-maniacal that he has been called an
anti-Christ in some judicial corridors. He allegedly accepted biased testimony from business
associates and fixed cases for friends. Further, he is allegedly erratic, angers quickly, and is
generally a jerk whom West Palm Beach voters should have gotten rid of long ago when he
berated jurors for acquitting someone. He is allegedly a racist, a white Yankee boy who thinks
black churchgoers near his home make too much noise during services. Furthermore, the
governor and the good old boys of the Florida Bar, which he has served as a referee over
disciplinary cases, love him dearly.

Honorable Donald W. Hafele

On the other hand, we hear from Judge Hafele‘s anonymous supporters that he is a
compassionate and caring human being who volunteers his time helping people with drug
addiction and keeping juveniles away from drugs and crime. He said he enjoyed doing pro bono
work so much that he decided to get out of private practice and become a judge so he could do
the community some good on a full time basis. He allegedly enjoyed sitting in criminal cases
because he felt he was helping people, particularly the drug addicts whom he diverted to rehab
instead of sentencing them to jail. He is so beloved by some convicts that they thank him for
convicting them. His order of priorities is God, family and friends, and job satisfaction, Not only
is he kind and considerate, it is said, but he is man of integrity, a great jurist, an asset to the
bench who deserves in every way to be called Your Honor.
In any case, Tifford was with good reason anxious to get his son-in-law‘s small claims case
before Honorable Judge Hafele in order to prolong Johnson‘s misery. If Tifford did not do
something soon, both the small claims case and the circuit court case would be done with, and
the predators would lose their prey altogether and be subject to a suit for malicious prosecution
and abuse of process, not to mention their potential liability for fees and costs. Mind you that 38
of the 41 counts of defamation against Johnson had already been dismissed in the circuit court
and affirmed on appeal. The dismissal of the remaining defamation counts was a foregone
conclusion if Johnson could not be strong-armed into settling pretty soon. The last three counts
would indeed be dismissed and affirmed on appeal as well, but at great additional cost to
Johnson as a result of Tifford‘s ploy before Judge Hafele. Yes, Johnson was the ―winner‖ in
circuit court but Florida like most states does not have a ―loser pays all‖ law, so the winner is
often the loser. Johnson‘s attorney had unfortunately botched the wording of an agreement or
sort of wager between the parties for settlement of attorney‘s fees depending on the outcome of
the suit. In order to recover his damages, exceeding $250,000 not counting his psychological
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injuries and such, Johnson would have to sue the Libow faction for malicious prosecution and
abuse of process, which he would do on January 24, 2011. He declined to name Tifford as a
party in that filing, on the advice of counsel; Libow settled with him after an appeal was denied.
Judge Hafele would throw Johnson to the wolves in small claims court, awarding the predators
around $42,000 for a $1,621 fee claim. Indeed, the honorable judge took it upon himself in small
claims court to join his colleague-at-arms, Col. Tifford, ostensibly to defend the bar and bench
against this contemptuous insurgent, whom both he and Tifford described during the ex parte
hearing as a ―contenacious‖ (sic) person—―contentious‖ perhaps being a term reserved for
licensed lawyers who prosecute vexatious lawsuits with impunity. He would hear Tifford‘s
motion to strike Johnson‘s pleadings on the ground that they were fraudulent, as well as his
motion to hold Johnson and his wife, who had had nothing to do with the case and whose name
had been removed as a defendant, in contempt of court—Libow had admitted she was named
only to get at her assets on judgment. He would allow Tifford to introduce the December 22,
2006, circuit court deposition although another small claims court judge had barred discovery
three times. He would swallow, hook, line, and sinker, everything Tifford said including
manufactured and misinterpreted facts.
Nothing in our series of articles on Johnson Ordeal is intended to assert or to imply that any of
the lawyers and judges concerned actually committed crimes or breaches of professional ethics
in regards to the Johnsons. The Johnson Ordeal is merely a description of what Florida lawyers
may do for a living with the consent and condonation of the Supreme Court of the State of
Florida and its Florida Bar. As for Libow, he is estranged from his wife hence involved in
protracted litigation with hundreds of actions already docketed. For all we know, he was a victim
of his father-in-law in whom he saw his missing father. He has previously decline comment.
The Florida Bar was made well aware of the Johnson case via several complaints that constitute
a long-running, extensive complaint over several years. Indeed, Johnson revived his complaints
against three of the lawyers after he won his causes at a financial loss to himself, and his most
recent were summarily dismissed by Florida Bar counsel in 2015 in a manner that appears to
violate Bar Rules supposedly upheld by the Florida Bar, as if Bar counsel were defense counsel
for the attorneys complained about. Paul Hill, general counsel for the Florida Bar, has been asked
to reopen the complaints, and to support legislation that would inhibit lawyers from bringing
defamation suits against people to shut them up or extort monies from them.
Suffice it to say that the Florida Bar, by its dismissals and silence, has condoned the sort of deeds
Johnson and hundreds of thousands of bar critics complain about, and so did the judges who
tolerated or assisted with the behavior in their courts. Wherefore we may consider the behavior
ordinary and ethical according to the professional standards as interpreted by lawyers and judges.
In fact, that is why we consider Arthur W. Tifford to be a good example of the actual standards,
and celebrate him as an ―exemplary lawyer‖ of the Rambo-type.
Bred to jungle warfare, the noble-minded professionalism of the so-called public-spirited lawyerstatesman has devolved into a sordid business to obtain filthy lucre. Gideon Kanner identified
Rambo litigation with "scorched earth," "take no prisoners," and "Godzilla" litigation (‗Welcome
Home Rambo: High-Minded Ethics and Low-Down Tactics in the Courts‘, 25 LOY. L.A. L.
RHV. 81-82 – 1991). Robert N. Sayler captures the essence of "Rambo" litigation in six traits:
(1) A mindset that litigation is war and that describes trial practice in military terms; (2) A
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conviction that it is invariably in your interest to make life miserable for your opponent; (3) A
disdain for common courtesy and civility, assuming they ill-befit the true warrior; (4) A
wondrous facility for manipulating facts and engaging in revisionist history; (5) A hair-trigger
willingness to fire off unnecessary motions and to use discovery for intimidation rather than factfinding; and (6) An urge to put the trial lawyer on center stage rather than the client or his case.
(‗Rambo Litigation: Why Hardball Tactics Don't Work‘, A.B.A. J., March 1988, at 79).
True, the public and the profession itself are increasingly convinced that lawyers are a plague on
society. But adherents to the side of class warfare that exacts economic rent or tribute from the
other side consider him and thousands of others like him to be heroes and patriots withal. In any
case, who would not want a successful gunslinger on his side?

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Frame from Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail ‐ All the books in the world will not save the guilty from chaos 

 
 

 
THE INSTITUTIONAL BLINDNESS OF THE FLORIDA BAR 
A PERFECT EXAMPLE 
BY 
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS 

 

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March 16, 2015 
The Florida Bar, the disciplinary arm of the Supreme Court of the State of Florida, is living up to 
its reputation for defending select members against bar complaints.  
On  Feb.  16,  2015,  Annemarie  Craft,  Bar  Counsel,  acting  as  a  virtual  defense  lawyer  for  Allen 
Libow,  instead  of  diligently  investigating  his  conduct  for  her  finding  of  no  probable  cause, 
dismissed David Johnson’s complaint against Libow for allegedly trying to extort $100,000 out 
of  him  and  his  wife  to  settle  what  began  with  a  bogus  $1,621  suit  against  him  for  legal  fees 
after he had already paid the firm around $9,000.. 
“This  appears  to  be  the  third  Bar  complaint  you  filed  against  Mr.  Libow.  The  initial  Bar 
complaint  as  I  understand  it  was  regarding  an  allegation  that  Mr.  Libow  charged  you  an 
excessive fee.” 
Bar  Complaint  14‐17717  only  “appears”  to  be  the  third  bar  complaint  to  her  because  the 
previous  complaints  were  also  dismissed.  The  policy  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court  is  to  have 
dismissed cases destroyed along with any record that they existed and were destroyed, a year 
after findings of no probable cause. That way, there will be no record available that may tend to 
demonstrate patterns of misconduct by attorneys, who are “officers of the court,” in marked 
contrast to the retention policy in force for police officers employed by the executive branch.   
It  is  unlikely  that  anyone  besides  the  complainant  will  know  of  a  bar  complaint  since  the 
investigations are secret, and the public is not notified when complaints are dismissed. Since no 
record is retained, the Florida Bar can claim ignorance of records including records of its own 
misconduct, unless someone can prove receipt of the bar file during the one‐year period.  
In any event, the Bar and its parent, the Florida Supreme Court, are absolutely immune from 
liability for misconduct. Thus the only assurance of “integrity” that the public has is that the Bar 
and the Court are “integrated” or are as one, the Bar being the rib or wife of the almighty court. 
Only god on high enjoys more immunity from being held accountable. 
The Florida Bar is naturally overloaded with complaints against attorneys. The majority of them 
involve  fee disputes,  so  thousands  if  not  hundreds  of  complaints  are rejected  as  fee  disputes 
even though they may involve unethical conduct.  The Florida Bar has a gatekeeper who does 
his  or  her  best  to  dissuade  people  from  filing  and  pursuing  complaints.  Our  previous 
investigation  turned  up  conflicting  information  from  Bar  staff  regarding  the  number  of 
complaints  recognized  as  complaints  and  logged  in  as  public  records.  That  may  depend  on 
capitalization  of  the  word:  only  Complaints,  not  complaints,  may  be  honored  as  worthy  of 
recordkeeping.  That  makes  statistical  analyses,  another  way  of  holding  the  Florida  Bar, 
unreliable.  
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David  Johnson  would  not  let  the  Florida  Bar  forget  what  happened  to  him  at  the  hands  of  a 
certain bevy of related attorneys whom he has pursued now for eleven years. 
To  begin  with,  Johnson  was  bound  and  determined  to  have  Allen  Libow  disciplined  by  the 
Florida Bar, so he filed a bar complaint against him for harassment on August 16, 2004.  
Cynthia Becker, the wheelchair‐bound attorney who had actually handled Johnson’s case had 
left the Libow firm. Libow called Johnson and demanded a supposed balance due of $5,014, but 
said he would forget the amount supposedly due if Johnson kept his case with his firm instead 
of following the departed attorney. After all, he reportedly said, there had been mistakes in the 
billing,  like  charges  for  a  court  appearance  not  even  made.  Anyway,  the  attorney  had  a 
reputation for overbilling.  
Johnson demurred. He felt he owed nothing, and that Libow’s plea to keep him with the firm 
was reprehensible. Wherefore the aggressive collection tactic proceeded. The $5,014 amount 
was  reduced  to  $2,086  because  of  the  irregularity,  and  that  to  $1,621  because of  a  $200  per 
hour charge for itemizing the invoice, reclassified as a debt collection fee. Incidentally, Allen is a 
CPA as well as a license attorney, so he is good with numbers. 
Two  months  after  Johnson  filed  the  Bar  complaint  in  2004,  Libow  also  sued  him  and  his 
innocent wife for defamation, offering to settle everything for $100,000. 
Johnson would later infer from court records that Libow’s firm, with the assistance of Arthur W. 
Tifford, Libow’s father‐in‐law, appeared to have quite a racket going, and he supposed that he 
was  one  of  their  unwitting  victims.  All  told,  81  of  clients  of  Libow’s  firm  would  eventually  be 
sued  after  their  lawyers  departed  the  firm.  For  example,  one  lady  who  allegedly  owed  only 
$187 wound up settling for $11,000 rather than pay an attorney to defend a claim for more.  As 
for  departing  attorneys:  Johnson  said  he  counted  12  attorneys  who  sued  Libow  after  they 
departed.  
In his original complaint about billing and collection practices, Johnson said that “Jessie James 
used  a  horse  and  a  six‐  gun  to  carry  out  his  robberies.  Mr.  Libow  uses  a  computer  and  the 
United States Mail to carry out his.” As for the departing attorney, wheelchair‐bound Cynthia 
Becker, “I have since been told by. Ms. Becker that what happened to me was not unique, but 
was  in  fact  standard  practice  with  regard  to  what  Mr.  Libow  considers  to  be  his  'less 
sophisticated clients.'"  
That  information  was  reported  to  the  F.B.I.  in  2014,  along  with  hearsay  alleging  that  Tifford 
asked his son‐in‐law to help him set up an offshore account to keep Tifford’s fortune secure. It 
is  unknown  whether  an  investigation  into  the  alleged  racket  was  conducted  since  F.B.I. 
investigations are secret. 
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“On that (original) bar complaint,” continued Craft, “there was a ‘cc’ to various entities however 
you  did  not  actually  send  the  Bar  complaint  to  those  entities.  As  a  result  of  the  ‘cc’  and  also 
some emails Mr. Libow sued you and your wife for defamation.” 
That alone should have given Craft sufficient cause to have the complaint prosecuted instead of 
dismissing it as she was probably instructed to do. Time and time again Johnson had pointed 
out that the Florida Supreme Court, in Tobkin v. Jarboe (710 So.2d 975), had decided on May 
28, 1998, that Bar are absolutely privileged against defamation suits because “Bar complainants 
must  be  encouraged  to  step  forward  with  legitimate  complaints,  which  will  further  the 
important public policy of disciplining attorney misconduct.” 
And surely Craft is not blind to the fact that threatening to sue people for defamation for filing 
Bar complaints is prohibited by Bar Rule 4‐8.4(d)—Conduct prejudicial to the administration of 
justice, as is evident in Florida Bar v. Daniel James Eckert, Case SC10‐1308 TFB NO. 2009‐11,071 
(6C). Every attorney is supposed to know that. 
The “various entities” to which the original complaint was not sent were the Attorney General 
of the State of Florida, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Governor of the State of Florida. 
Whether  the  copies  were  received  by  the  government  entities,  and  they  were  not,  does  not 
abrogate absolute privilege.  
As the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court held, on May 11, 2006, striking most of the counts alleged 
in  Libow  and  Shaheen  LLP’s  defamation  case  against  David  Johnson  and  Jane  Johnson 
(502005CA003299), that disciplinary concerns “dictate that a complaint directed to the wrong 
agency of government should not forfeit the privilege. Otherwise, a potential complainant may 
choose not to pursue a claim because of doubt as to whom it should be directed. Further, while 
the  affected  attorney  may  suffer  additional  embarrassment  caused  by  having  a  complaint, 
which  may  be  totally  without  merit,  published  to  yet  another  person,  government  agencies 
have systems in place to direct a complaint to the proper channels. The possibility a complaint 
will be misused by a governmental entity or necessarily republished is minimal. Consequently, 
the letters to The Bar were privileged.” 
As  for  Johnson’s  hyperbole  comparing  Allen  to  Jessie  James,  the  court  held  that,  “Any 
reasonable  reader  would  understand  that  Mr.  Johnson  disputes  Mr.  Libow's  billing  practices, 
characterizing  them  as  'attempted  robbery'  and  indicative  of  a  ‘larcenous  agenda’:  Those 
statements  are  not  actionable.”  Neither  is  the  allegation  that  he  ‘overbills,’  since  that  is  a 
matter of opinion 
Craft was made aware that Mrs. Johnson was named as a defendant in the suits; she knew that 
David Johnson was awfully sore about having his wife sued for a bar complaint that she was not 
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a party to. Allen had revealed that he named her in the suit in order to execute any judgment 
against  their  joint  property.  That  too  should  have  caused  Craft  to  have  Johnson’s  complaint 
prosecuted.  
After most of the counts in the defamation suit had been dismissed by the circuit court, Allen 
was willing to settle for $50,000 instead of $100,000. Johnson refused, so the case was pursued 
with a vengeance.  
“The  defamation  case  resulted  in  lengthy  and  costly  litigation,”  Craft  wrote.  “Much  of  your 
complaint  is  about  things  that  happened  during  the  course  of  the  litigation.  In  essence,  you 
seek  to  obtain  sanctions  against  Mr.  Libow  which  you  were  unsuccessful  in  obtaining  though 
the trial court.” 
The  lawyers  did  not  see  Johnson  coming,  thinking  he  would  lie  down  and  cough  up  like  the 
other dogs they kicked. Interestingly, what offended him most of all was the attack on his wife, 
who was not a party to the bar complaint, so they could get at her savings. He had to lay out 
around $250,000 to defend himself as the case dragged on and on for a decade.  
Besides the money, he and his family suffered from stress comparable to that experienced by 
the victims portrayed in the movie Cape Fear, a movie actually Allen mentioned in his email to 
Johnson.  Murder,  guns,  police  reports,  drugs,  mental  instability  would  all  have  a  place  in  a 
movie about this true event. 
The Florida Bar is not supposed to mollycoddle miscreants as it is inclined to do for the good of 
the profession, yet it is supposed to reach out to help its members when they are under severe 
psychological  distress,  not  only  to  protect  them  but  to  protect  the  public  from  irrational  and 
unlawful behavior.  
Johnson is not shedding crocodile tears over Allen’s current estrangement from his wife and his 
father‐in‐law. However, anyone examining the record and speaking with Johnson and Allen will 
have  some  sympathy  for  Allen  as  a  victim  of  Tifford,  who  played  the  role  of  a  much  needed 
father to him, and who appears as the mastermind who deviously manipulated not only Allen 
but others to his own ends. Now that the legal issues have been resolved, Allen, who previously 
declined to be quoted because of pending litigation, may relate his perspective on the events to 
us in the near future.  
Johnson may be a dog to kick, but he is a hound from hell when wronged. He told the lawyers 
he would “take them to school” and he did just that. He made certain the Florida Bar and the 
New York Supreme Court knew all about Tifford, how he had operated for impunity for years, 
arousing suspicions that he was indeed an Agency man back in Vietnam hence untouchable by 
the Florida Bar, the F.B.I., and the Department of Treasury.  
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Someone else finally got to Tifford  on the sort of case the Florida Bar cannot claim blindness 
too  because  numbers  do  not  lie:  blatant  discrepancies  in  a  client’s  trust  account.  Others  had 
complained  of  financial  irregularities  as  well.  Rather  than  conduct  a  full  Bar  investigation  of 
Tifford, which might have uncovered other misconduct, he was allowed to petition the Florida 
Supreme Court for voluntary disbarment. The Court would not hear objections by a party who 
tried  to  intervene  because  she  wanted  a  thorough  investigation.  His  petition  was  granted. 
Johnson made sure the New York Supreme Court became aware of that, and Tifford’s license 
was pulled in New York. 
The  second  paragraph  of  Craft’s  finding  of  no  probable  cause  illustrates  the  institutional 
blindness of the Florida Bar to misconduct right under its nose: 
“With regard to the lawsuit filed by Mr. Libow you indicated that the trial court used phrases 
such  as  ‘frauds  on  the  court’,  ‘malicious’,  ‘frivolous’,  ‘an  abuse  of  the  process’,  ‘twisted',  ‘a 
ruse’,  ‘a  trick’  and  ‘a  ploy’.  However  the  record  is  devoid  of  any  finding  that  the  lawsuit  was 
frivolous or that a fraud upon the court was committed. There were several appeals taken in 
this case by the plaintiffs. The appellate court did not find any of those appeals to be frivolous. 
This  is  important  because  the  jurisdiction  of  the  circuit  courts  is  concurrent  with  that  of  The 
Florida Bar under the Rules of Discipline. The Court could have used their jurisdiction to disciple 
Mr. Libow but did not do so. You sued Mr. Libow for malicious prosecution and that lawsuit was 
settled. Consequently the court never ruled on the issues you raised in that case.” 
So  the  court  saw  what Libow  was  up  to,  and  it  was  evil,  but  hardly  surprising  in  that  context 
because  rarely  disciplined  by  the  Bar.  The  abuse  of  process  included  burying  the  court  in 
thousands of pages of documents to protract the litigation and make it increasingly expensive 
for the Johnsons, who had to hire lawyers, while the lawyers being sued defended themselves 
gratis. Officers of the court even lied in some of those documents.  
Well, too bad for Johnson and his wife and the public because the honorable judges did not sit 
down and file formal reports with the Florida Bar, something that judges rarely do much to the 
dismay  of  aggrieved  parties.  What  judges  say  about  lawyers  in  court  can  be  proactively 
followed up on by the Florida Bar; do not count on it.  
All of the appeals were lost. Johnson turned around and sued Libow, and Libow lost an appeal 
based on an argument that lawyers should be absolutely privileged to abuse their clients. And 
then Libow finally settled.  
Yes,  there  is  something  wrong  with  that  picture,  but  that  is  picture  of  what  members  of  the 
Florida Bar can do, so beware. 

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Craft did not have to be crafty. Do not blame her, as she was probably just following orders. She 
merely continued the very policy that Johnson had complained about in an insulting way when 
the Bar sat on his past complaint about the attorneys many years prior. He said that Florida Bar 
officials were sitting on their bureaucratic asses. He has been a pain in the ass ever since. 
# # 
 
 BAR FILE ATTACHED 
 

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FROM THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON
by David Arthur Walters

FLORIDA BAR V. ECKERT – THOU SHALT NOT BLACKMAIL LITIGANTS

Blackmailer in frame from Hitchcock’s ‘Blackmail’

In The Florida Bar v James Daniel Eckert, File No. 2009-11,071 (6C), The Florida Bar averred
that Mr. Eckert had represented Jean Camposecco in post dissolution of marriage proceedings,
and that, while the case was pending, the opposing party, Robert Camposecco, filed an
Inquiry/Complaint form against the lawyer with The Florida Bar, which it received on March 4,
2009, alleging that Mr. Eckert had blackmailed him, and had personally called him at home
although he was represented by an attorney, one Phillip McLeod.
Mr. Camposecco withdrew the complaint on March 21, 2009, stating that, although he believed
Mr. Eckert was somewhat unethical, he did not believe he originated the “blackmail” suggestion,
attributing that to his ex-wife. On June 4, 2009, the Florida Bar advised Mr. Camposecco that the
file had been closed per his request.
However, on June 11, 2009, Mr. Camposecco asked that the withdrawn complaint be reopened,
saying he regretted having asked that the case be closed. He said he had done so because his
attorney, Mr. McLeod, had been upset that he had filed the Bar complaint against his fellow
attorney behind his back without telling him about it; consequently, Mr. McLeod resigned from
his case; but he wanted Mr. McLeod to stay with the case because he knew it so well, and he did

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not want to go to the expense of hiring another attorney. He still felt that Eckert was guilty of
“blackmail” and that the facts should come out.
“Blackmail” is an old term that once meant the evil rent (‘mail’) exacted by tribal chiefs in
Scotland in return for not pillaging farms; i.e., blackmail referred to protection money or bribes
extorted from people. Taxation is said to be the modern form of blackmail – fines and prison
sentences are exacted for failure to “voluntarily comply.” Blackmailers are despised by all but a
few libertarians who believe in absolutely free trade, and their fate in popular fiction can be far
more horrible than a slap on the wrist by the state bar association or a year in federal prison or a
few years in a state prison.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1929 ‘Blackmail’, a girl named Alice visits an artist’s studio and stabs him
to death when he tries to rape her. Her boyfriend Frank, a homicide detective assigned to the
case, finds one of her gloves at the scene, recognizes it, and while discussing the homicide with
her, Tracey, a petty thief who saw her at the artist’s studio, interrupts them with a blackmail
attempt, and Frank warns him that his blackmail attempt is doomed. The landlady then identifies
Tracey as the man she saw at the scene, so he is the chief suspect now. He flees and climbs up
the dome of the British Museum and falls to his death through a glass panel of the dome. The
symmetrical order of some of the spaces within the museum initially provided him with a sense
of control, but he soon lost it and panicked. Of particular interest to lawyers who blackmail
people is the scene in the angular library; all the books in the world will not save a miscreant
from chaos, no matter what defensive angle he takes.
Today anything of value besides money may be blackmail. For example, an interesting
discussion of blackmail takes place during the rape scene in the 1962 Cape Fear movie: the
convicted rapist Max Cady told the lawyer’s wife that, if she consented to his having his way
with her, then he would leave her daughter alone. “No, that’s not consent; it’s blackmail!” she
cried – she meant her consent would be coerced. Cady, an experienced jailhouse lawyer, would
naturally have a ready defense since there were no witnesses: “No, it’s not blackmail; you only
think I’m going after Nancy.” Alas for Cady that his self-taught law had always failed him; he
would not even appear in court in this case; instead, he found himself at the bottom of the river.
Now blackmail is a form of extortion variously defined by federal and state statutes, and may be
distinguished from extortion when it is said that blackmail involves a threat to commit an act that
is not independently illegal, such as revealing information about the commission of a crime:
Give me money or I'll tell the police what you did. Since the information is usually true, it is not
the revelation of the information that would be criminal, but demanding money to withhold it.
On the other hand, it may be said that “extortion” involves a threat to commit a violent act that is
independently illegal, such as inflicting physical injury: Give me money or I'll break your arm.
Blackmail or extortion is apparently a kind of stock in trade of the legal profession itself because
we often hear from litigants that officers of the court are blackmailing them, extorting money and
other advantages from them. They may not threaten physical violence, but they can otherwise
ruin lives.

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For example, in the case of Allen Libow v. David Johnson, Allen Libow, Esq. thought that it was
perfectly legal for a member of The Florida Bar to sue David Johnson and to allude to Cape Fear
unless he coughed up a $100,000 “sweet spot” settlement on a trumped-up claim of $1,621 for
legal fees. Mr. Johnson certainly believed he had received an extortionate threat when he
received email on October 11, 2004, from Mr. Libow in regards to the Libow law firm’s $1,621
small claims county court suit for legal fees:
“Mr. Johnson: Seeing that you never really had a lawyer and are representing
yourself and your wife, pro se, please provide me with available deposition
dates…. As a proposal for settlement, my wife and I will walk away for $100,000.
Anything short of that, and we will fully prosecute our case. We will amend our
complaint, and remove to the Circuit Court for all available relief and remedies….
For outside counsel, you may contact Arthur W. Tifford, Esq. or Alexandra L.
Tifford….”
To make matters worse, Johnson did not capitulate: instead, he filed a complaint with The
Florida Bar wherein he called the threat “extortion” and the lawyer a “miscreant” among other
things. Mr. Libow then sued Mr. Johnson for defamation, with the condonation of The Florida
Bar even though that sort of conduct is prohibited by the Bar, as we shall soon see from the
Eckert case. That he called Florida Bar investigators “bureaucratic asses” for sitting on his
complaint while its members abused him and his family did not help his cause.
Blackmail under Florida law is a felony, referred to indirectly by definition of “extortion” under
§836.05 Fla. Stat. (2010):
“Threats; extortion, - Whoever, either verbally or by a written or printed communication,
maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication
maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously
threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, or to impute
any deformity or lack of chastity to another, with intent thereby to extort money or any pecuniary
advantage whatsoever, or with intent to compel the person so threatened, or any other person, to
do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, shall be guilty of a felony of the
second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”
As for the Rules of Professional Conduct that lawyers are theoretically supposed to abide by, the
particular rule appertaining to the blackmail allegedly participated in by Mr. Eckert would be:
“RULE 4-3.4 FAIRNESS TO OPPOSING PARTY AND COUNSEL. A lawyer shall not…. (g)
present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an
advantage in a civil matter….”
The background for the blackmail accusation in Eckert was that Mr. Camposecco, during his
attempt to get his alimony payments reduced again or just terminated, said he had filed, on
February 23, 2009, a request for a domestic violence injunction (DVI) against his former wife
because she had threatened him. And then he was led to believe, by correspondence from his
lawyer, that she would, through her lawyer, a close associate of his own lawyer, reveal that he
had sent her email asking her to get illegal pills for him; that is, unless he withdrew his request
for a DVI. The evidence offered in support of that so-called blackmail, were as follows:
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In a letter dated February 25, 2009, Mr. McLeod authorized Mr. Eckert to call Mr. Camposecco
for certain information, but said that discussion about illegal pill email was off limits:
“You wished to take my client’s deposition but I also provided his telephone
number so you may discuss the case, his income and the DVI if you make an
appearance in it as I will not attend his deposition at this time. The additional
issues regarding their relationship, emails about pills, are off limits. If you need to
discuss any of that, then the deposition under oath is necessary.”
On the same day, via email to Mr. Camposecco, Mr. McLeod explained the
reference to the pills: “Bob, I did not put it in the letter but he claims unless you
drop the DVI she has numerous emails from you asked her to get you pills
illegally. Just FYI as I do not care nor does it deserve a response. See attached.”
The Devil’s Advocate might argue from this slight evidence that Mr. Camposecco had probable
cause to believe that he was being blackmailed, at least as that term is employed in common
parlance; the blackmailer, in order to gain some advantage, threatened to reveal something
untoward about him unless he did or did not do something. We may infer from Mr. McLeod’s
email that he did not consider the threat of revealing a request to obtain pills illegally much of a
menace; he apparently saw little cause for alarm or probability of harm to his client’s case if the
ex-wife and/or her attorney had revealed that request. Still, he must have perceived something
base or foul in the request since he did not consider it worthy of a response, and warned Mr.
Eckert the matter was off limits.
The threat, if actually made or participated in by Mr. Eckert was probably an idle one. Perhaps
he felt obliged to mention the wife’s alleged threat to Mr. McLeod. For all we know, that sort of
exchange may casually occur in the litigious trade, which engages itself in a great deal of
legalized blackmail – incidentally, complaints in lawsuits used to be called “libels” wherein
lawyers would throw the libels or books at people whether or not the accusations within them
were true.

Tampa Pill Mill 2010

Doctor House

Largo Drug Sweep 2009

If the claim about illegally getting pills were in fact true, then so what? Who knows, the ex-wife
herself might herself be implicated in uncomely behavior. We do not see the black-email on the
public record provided to us, so we can only speculate about its nature after getting a whiff of
blackmail.
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Would Doctor House be committing a crime by merely asking a colleague to illegally procure
some painkilling pills for him? In the case at hand, perhaps it was feared that if it could be shown
that the petitioner for reduction in alimony was spending $600 per month in obtaining drugs
illegally, the alimony should not be reduced accordingly. But what if the man, like Doctor
House, was in excruciating pain, and was getting licensed doctors in so-called pill mills to
prescribe them, doctors who had not been convicted of illegal drug distribution crimes? Then he
might claim a reduction in his income instead of an increase in his ex-wife’s income as
justification for a reduction of alimony.
Or a person might feel some shame of being exposed for taking illegally obtained pills in
Florida, although the state is known as Pill Popping Paradise. Would you let a surgeon operate
on you if you knew he was taking illegally obtained painkillers not only because he was addicted
to them but to make sure that his pain would not interfere with his control of the scalpel?
In any event, Mr. Camposecco’s sensitivity is not surprising in a milieu that family lawyers may
find normal but is unusually provocative, hostile and deeply offensive to the litigants themselves.
We can certainly understand why a lawyer or two might find allusions to blackmail distasteful.
Perhaps only an unsophisticated party would take the veiled threat seriously; Mr. McCleod, who
had a duty to tell his client about it, and even to report his colleague to the The Florida Bar, had
in effect told his client not to worry about it.
Mr. Eckert denied the “blackmail” charge. He said he had discussed the matter with his longtime
colleague Mr. McLeod, and he concurred that there had been no threats as claimed. He said he
certainly would not make such a threat to Mr. McLeod; after all, he had known him for decades,
had been employed by his father and even became a partner of his father.
It is reasonable to infer then that he knew such a threat would be unethical or criminal. Knowing
someone for a long time does not preclude one from engaging in unethical behavior; it may even
indispose one to report it as per “RULE 4-8.3 REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT
(a) Reporting Misconduct of Other Lawyers. A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has
committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as
to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the
appropriate professional authority.”
He said that he had conferred personally with Mr. Camposecco only at the request of Mr.
McLeod even though that was a procedure contrary to almost any case he had had in his career.
As a matter of fact, the Rules of Professional Conduct permitted the communication: “RULE 44.2 COMMUNICATION WITH PERSON REPRESENTED BY COUNSEL (a) In representing
a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the
lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the
consent of the other lawyer….”
He denied that he had had anything to do with Mr. McLeod’s withdrawal from the case; besides,
Mr. McLeod had taken that case to trial for Mr. Camposecco anyway.
In any case, Mr. Eckert was obviously deeply offended by the blackmail accusation. On June 24,
2009, in a letter to The Florida Bar, he objected to the reinstatement of a complaint that had been
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closed, and especially to the charge of blackmail which he claimed was defamatory. On July 9,
2009, he wrote a letter to Mr. Camposecco, threatening to sue him for defamation and damages
unless he withdrew his Bar complaint and issued a letter of apology within five days.
“You have filed a baseless complaint against me with the Florida Bar, charging
me, among other things, with bribery and extortion. This letter, then, is to put you
on notice, that unless you withdraw such charges, plus issue a letter of apology,
within 5 days from July 10, 2009, which is the statutory time, you will be sued for
defamation of character, among other matters, and you will be held responsible
for all damages. Please consult with an attorney of your own choosing about these
matters, but I hereby advise you that Mr. Phillip McLeod, Esq., will be called as a
witness by my attorney. Please be governed accordingly.”
It appears that Mr. Eckert may have intended his reference to “the statutory time” to appertain to
§836.07 Fla. Stat. under the main heading “Defamation; Libel; Threatening Letters and Similar
Offenses”:
“836.07 Notice condition precedent to prosecution for libel. – Notice condition
precedent to prosecution for libel. – Before any criminal action is brought for
publication, in a newspaper periodical, of a libel, the prosecutor shall at least 5
days before instituting such action serve notice in writing on defendant,
specifying the article and the statements therein which he or she alleges to be false
and defamatory.”
Defamation is a misdemeanor offense of the second degree under the criminal statute.
However, there is a way out:
“836.08 Correction, apology, or retraction by newspaper. – (1) If it appears upon
the trial that said article was published in good faith; that its falsity was due to an
honest mistake of the facts; that there were reasonable grounds for believing that
the statements in said article were true; and that, within the period of time
specified in subsection (2), a full and fair correction, apology, and retraction was
published in the same editions or corresponding issues of the newspaper or
periodical in which said article appeared, and in as conspicuous place and type as
was said original article, then any criminal proceeding charging libel based on an
article so retracted shall be discontinued and barred.”
Mr. Camposecco only published his complaint to The Florida Bar; it was not published in a
newspaper for which Mr. Camposecco was responsible, so it is difficult to understand why Mr.
Eckert would refer to an inapplicable statutory limit of five days as provided by the criminal
statute. In our lay opinion, a defamation action does not have to be based on a criminal statute,
but may be a tort action appertaining to an injury not due to a breach of contract, hence may be
brought as a civil suit, where the statute of limitation is far more than five days. There is a
similar reference to a 5-day period in Chapter 770 of the Florida Statutes (“Civil Actions for
Libel”), and that chapter is also very clearly limited to newspapers, radio and broadcast media.

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The Devil’s Advocate might argue that Mr. Eckert added to the blackmail originally alleged with
more blackmail; that he wished to imply that Mr. Camposecco had committed the crime of libel
or the tort of defamation, accusing him of such in order to get him to drop the complaint. But
then his demand, if maliciously made, might constitute an extortionate letter or blackmail
according to the same §836.05, which is punishable as a felony.
Mr. Camposecco was frightened by the threat: he withdrew his Bar complaint on July 13, 2009:
“Mr. Eckert, after further thought and consideration, I have decided not to pursue
my complaint against you with The Florida Bar. At this time of my life there are
much more important things to take care of and so little time left to do it all. So,
once again, consider this matter closed as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps you
should consider closing the debt matter against me as well.”
Nevertheless, on December 30, 2009, the Sixth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee found
probable cause for further disciplinary proceedings, that the Respondent had violated Florida
Bar: Rule 4-8.4(d), stating that a lawyer shall not engage in conduct in connection with the
practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. The probable misconduct was
stated as: “On or about July 9, 2009, Respondent wrote a letter to a complainant threatening to
sue him for defamation and damages unless he withdrew his Bar complaint and issued a letter of
apology within five days.”
Apparently no probable cause was found that “blackmail” or “extortion” or “bribery” had been
committed as originally alleged or that the personal contact with opposing counsel with Mr.
Camposecco was unethical. We find nothing on the public record provided to us actually
discussing and dismissing those charges. At this writing (May 3, 2011) The Florida Bar is
checking its files to see if part of the public file was not made available to us.
On December 11, 2010, Mr. Camposecco tendered a Conditional Guilty Plea. The referee in the
case recommended that Mr. Camposecco be found guilty, that he be publicly reprimanded and
pay $1,366.50 expenses in the case. On January 27, 2011, the Supreme Court approved the
uncontested referee's report and reprimanded Mr. Eckert.
So here we have, in The Florida Bar v. James Daniel Eckert, a finding of probable cause and a
guilty plea for an infraction that was not part of the original complaint but occurred during the
course of the investigation. Therefore it appears that the complaint as to this particular offense
was probably initiated orally by someone at the Florida Bar who was familiar with the leading
cases, Stone v. Rosen and Tobkin v. Jarboe, although the public bar record we have on hand
makes no mention of those cases or to the Florida common law expressed therein that complaints
to the Florida Bar about lawyer misconduct are absolutely privileged if not published elsewhere,
therefore the complainant is immune from defamation and/or malicious prosecution suits
whether his allegations are true or false. Given the Bar finding against Mr. Eckert, we suspected
that Bar counsel, at the behest of their director, who had written about this particular kind of
unethical behavior and was apprised of the Johnson case, had discriminated against Mr. Johnson
in his case, making it necessary for him to lay out nearly $250,000 to defend himself from
malicious prosecution and abusive process, and for his family to suffer a great deal of distress
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besides. Since Mr. Johnson had won his case and was suing Mr. Libow, we wondered whether he
also had grounds to sue The Florida Bar for a few million dollars.
When Karen Boroughs Lopez, the bar counsel or prosecutor in the Eckert case, and Kenneth
Marvin, Director of Lawyer Regulation, were asked who initiated the charge upon which the
guilty plea was had, they would only respond with a copy of Rule 3-7.4(c) under “Grievance
Committee Procedures” – “Investigation. A grievance committee is required to consider all
charges of misconduct forwarded to the committee by bar counsel whether based upon a written
complaint or not.” The record of our communication with Ms. Lopez is as follows:
WALTERS: I have reviewed the public record on the Eckert case, and see nothing
therein that would indicate who brought the particular charge on which Mr.
Eckert was found guilty i.e. of threatening Mr. Camposecco with a defamation
suit. Apparently no probable cause was found for charging Mr. Eckert for the
accusations brought by Mr. Camposecco, that of "blackmail" and that of
contacting him without benefit of counsel present. The threatening letter, you will
recall, came much later, after the case was reopened. Therefore, I am left
wondering if the Bar itself, under its own initiative, brought the charge for which
Mr. Eckert was disciplined, and if so, whom? Your good self? Mr. Marvin?
LOPEZ: Under the rules established by the Supreme Court (copy appears below,)
all matters are considered by the grievance committee. Those matters that result in
a probable cause finding are then brought before the Supreme Court via a
complaint process that is also outlined in The Florida Bar Rules Regulating The
Florida Bar. The Florida Bar becomes the complainant at that level, also per rule.
I hope this answers your questions. All of the Rules can be found on the Florida
Bar's website.
WALTERS: Yes I understand. My question is, in context of the discussion with
Mr. Marvin, as to who knows such threats of defamation-malicious prosecution
are barred? Mr. Eckert and his attorney with 80 years of experience between them
did not know. So who at the Bar knew and proposed the charge against Eckert? I
am writing a book about how the Bar ignored a horrendous case where the
complainant directly accused the lawyer in his complaint of this kind of implicitly
prohibited behavior, yet his complaint was purportedly dismissed because he was
rude because the Bar did nothing for months, even when latent death threats and
false police reports were added to the complaint. Further, my suggestion to add a
Rule barring lawyers from making defamation and/or malicious prosecution
threats have been ignored by the Bar and Supreme Court. I can tell you that many
lawyers know nothing of the common law prohibition. Given that neither the
raising nor the discussion of the issue appears anywhere on the Eckert file, it is a
fair question of WHO knew, WHO brought it up? That way I can give credit to
the person who knew, as this matter is becoming a matter of nationwide interest.
Thanks!
LOPEZ: I am not sure what you are asking. However, Mr. Camposecco filed the
complaint.
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WALTERS: Mr. Camposecco did not complain about letter threatening
defamation suit, at least not on the record. I am asking WHO at the Bar decided to
press that issue? Thanks.
LOPEZ: Bar counsel can send matters to the Grievance Committee and as per the
rules, the committee considers all matters even if the complainant does not
complain about a particular aspect of a case. There is an investigative process that
occurs and is conducted in each case. Each case is different as and unique, even if
at first brush, it might look the same. It can be confusing but when dealing with
human conduct there are many variables. I hope this helps.
WALTERS: Thank you. Do you recall when you yourself found out that
threatening Bar complainants with defamation and malicious prosecution is
against RULE 4-8.4(d)? Or that common law provides absolute privilege for Bar
complaints hence such threats would be unethical?”
LOPEZ: No.
I noticed that Mr. Eckert was admitted to the Bar in 1965, which gave me cause to wonder if he
was up to date on case law involving the defamation/malicious prosecution of persons who file
complaints against attorneys. In an April 25, 2011, email to Kenneth Marvin, whose name was
on the Eckert documents and who had sent out letters in the past citing and attaching copies of
the decision in Tobkin v Jarboe, I wondered if all attorneys had been advised on the
developments by way of continuing education, and why a specific Bar Rule had not been
promulgated on that point instead of reliance on a the prosecutor’s discretion of what prejudices
the administration of justice – a sort of catch-all rule – noting that my suggestions for such a rule
had been ignored. Threatening someone with a lawsuit for making a Bar complaint certainly
would seem to be “prejudicial to the administration of justice,” but it would seem that whatever
is definitely known to be prejudicial should be specified so all may know in advance what the
rule is. Otherwise, god-like discretion is afforded the prosecutor. By way of analogy, could a
criminal prosecutor charge someone with obstructing justice because s/he filed a complaint
against an officer of the court with the court’s disciplinary arm?
“How would all Florida attorneys know that complainants have absolute immunity in respect to
complaints filed against them?” I inquired of Mr. Marvin, and asked him for a copy of the Bar
file.
“Good question,” he responded. “How does anyone know what the law is? Yet, we are all
responsible to conform our conduct to the law's requirements.”
“When I was a kid,” I said, “the judge who made me wash police cars said that ignorance of the
law is no excuse. I wonder that so many laws are being passed every day that I must be breaking
some of them without knowing it.”

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“If you look at the volume of Florida Statutes it is overwhelming. I doubt that any citizen would
know 50% of what’s in there,” said Mr. Marvin – I believe the percentage would be more like
10%).
Once I had the Eckert file in hand, the first thing I laid eyes on were certain remarks made by the
attorney representing him in the case, one George M. Osborne. On August 1, 2010, in his answer
to the complaint against his client, he addressed Bar Counsel Karen B. Lopez and Kenneth
Marvin. He said he knew Eckert very well, that they were both graduated and admitted to the Bar
in 1965 and had practiced law a half block from each other for forty years. He said that Eckert
was a great lawyer, and cited his virtues at length. As for the immunity someone had against
being sued for defamation for filing a complaint with the Bar:
“I did not know of the immunity established in the case you kindly provided….
Jim is clear that he should not have written the letter. Had he known the rules it
would have been him delivering a retraction and apology despite having been
besmirched.”
Furthermore, in a September 1, 2010, letter to Karen Lopez:
“Do you give any credence to the points of my Answer, or do you think as a
matter of fact and law that not knowing about immunity and writing a letter
demanding a retraction of defamation and threatening suit for failure to retract
definitely and automatically and unqualifiedly subjects a lawyer to discipline? If
you do, there’s the rub, and I would like to know how you get to that conclusion. I
await your response with great interest – I am still open at this age to learn
something new…. I trust you understand I am hard pressed to think that the Court
expects a lawyer to be perfect. In 45 years at the Bar, neither of us ever heard of
this, never were exposed to it in required ethics CLE, and believe that this is true
for most attorneys.”
And we find this within the August 1, 2010 Answer to Complaint made by Mr. Osborne for Mr.
Eckert:
“…. the Inquiry/Complaint was false and wrongfully impugned Respondent's
integrity, and was withdrawn by him, Robert Camposecco, while the postdissolution matter was pending for reasons other than, are at least in addition to,
his receipt of the letter identified in paragraph 4 of the subject complaint. Further,
before he withdrew his Complaint, Mr. Camposecco was advised by The Florida
Bar in substance that he could not suffer civil liability for having made a
complaint, and he communicated this information to Respondent who accepted it
as true, and, of course, took no action against Camposecco although he did not
then know that unqualified immunity had been decided by The Supreme Court of
Florida. It submitted that it is fair to note that none of the 100 plus cases cited
under Rule 4-S.4(d) involve a holding that the "administration of justice" as used
and intended in the Rule is operative when an Inquiry/Complaint has been filed,
and your Respondent's undersigned attorney has found no case that establishes
such a Rule, and respectfully suggests that the plain meaning and intent of the
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THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

Rule does not appear to include the concept that the administration of justice is at
work initially when an Inquiry/Complaint has been filed….
“….Respondent says further that had he known that unqualified immunity
protected even a wrong-headed or improperly motivated Inquiry/Complaint he
would never have even considered suit, much less written a demand for retraction
and apology…. Respondent denies any implication or inference that he knowingly
or with reckless indifference, indeed, with any indifference, took action that was
contrary to proper practice and inconsistent with the highest aspirations of the
profession. However, Respondent answers further that he certainly knows it is
fundamental that a lawyer should not threaten an action which he knows cannot
be effective as a matter of fact or of law, and, if as a matter of law the Court
determines that he should have known about the principle of unqualified
immunity, then he was not simply in error but would be in the wrong to send the
letter and if it is also determined that the Rule is operative at the stage of an
Inquiry/Complaint, then he is subject to discipline….
“…. Respondent regrets his ignorance of unqualified immunity, and wishes that
he knew it had been determined. He respectfully observes that he believes many
lawyers are not aware of it, and having served as chair of the Pinellas County
grievance committee for three years, and as a ten year member of a committee of
the St. Petersburg Bar Association to long ago deal with grievance matters,
respectfully relate that the idea and issue never arose. He believes the
Inquiry/Complaint was not only unjust, but was improperly motivated as a tactic
in his case and by his animosity toward his former wife and his aversion to
paying….”
Apparently Mr. Osborne was unaware of the fact that the complaint withdrawn by Mr.
Camposecco was reasserted by him and officially re-opened by The Florida Bar. We found no
answer to Mr. Osborne’s questions on the defamation subject put to Ms. Lopez, and we found no
exoneration of Mr. Eckert on the accusations of wrongful communication and blackmail, so we
presented this letter to The Florida Bar:

May 03, 2011
Kenneth Marvin
Director of Lawyer Regulation
Karen Boroughs Lopez
Bar Counsel
THE FLORIDA BAR
Re: Rule 4-3.4(g)
Florida Bar v. James Daniel Eckert (SC10-1308)
Florida Bar v. Knowles (SC09-403)
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THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

Dear Counselors:
As you know, Robert Camposecco accused Mr. Eckert of two violations of the
Bar Rules in his complaint: blackmail, and wrongful communication with an
opposing lawyer’s client. However, neither of those accusations were addressed
and disposed of on the public record that was provided to me. Instead, counsel
initiated a third accusation and made it a charge; that Mr. Eckert, during the
course of the investigation, threatened to sue Mr. Camposecco for libel for
petitioning the Bar for redress of his two grievances. Mr. Eckert pled guilty to that
charge and was reprimanded.
It is obvious that the wrongful communication accusation was not an ethical
violation inasmuch as the Rules provide for communication with an opponent’s
client provided that his lawyer permits it, as the lawyer did in this case. Still, there
is nothing on the public record provided to me that exonerates Mr. Eckert in
regards to the complaint that he wrongfully communicated with Mr. Camposecco.
Of more serious concern is the blackmail charge, which I think should have been
pursued, based on the evidence presented by the complainant, according to Rule
4-3.4(g), A lawyer shall not…. (g) present, participate in presenting, or threaten to
present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter….”
As we see in Florida Bar v. Knowles, “the respondent was guilty of threatening to
present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter, conduct
which is expressly prohibited by Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-3.4(g). Such
misconduct by its very nature causes harm to the legal system. The respondent
was chargeable with knowledge of the rule prohibiting this misconduct.”
I suppose one might call the conduct prohibited a kind of “extortion” or
“blackmail.”
In Florida Bar v. James Daniel Eckert, the defendant and his attorney had never
heard of the prohibition against threatening Bar complainants with defamation
suits, nor was that behavior expressed barred by the catchall Rule barring conduct
“prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
In Eckert, there is no dispositive discussion of the blackmail issue on the public
record that I have obtained. Usually one would find on that record at least a letter
to the complainant stating that there was no probable cause to charge and try the
accused, along with the reasoning behind that decision. Since the “blackmail”
accusation is itself on the public record, and blackmail is a serious crime, I believe
that the accusation should not be dropped into the abyss without words
exonerating the accused; at least the public record should include a declaration
that there was no probable cause to bring the charge, and the reasoning behind
that decision should be provided.

Page 12 of 15 
 

THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

Coincidentally, the reasoning behind the common law foundation of the charge
Mr. Eckert pled guilty to is that, although baseless accusations against lawyers
may still damage their reputations when the cases against them are dismissed and
published, that is outweighed by the greater good of encouraging complainants to
come forward without fear of retaliation; innocent lawyers have some solace in
knowing that their exoneration is also published.
For all I know, the blackmail accusation may still be under investigation, or
perhaps The Florida Bar did not forward the entire public record to me as
represented. I certainly do not want to put this matter to bed thinking that the
prosecutorial power has in any way been arbitrarily or capriciously exercised. I
would rather believe that I am ignorant of the law and its processes and that my
sources are inadequate, or that some honest mistake has been made. It is to that
end that I pray for enlightenment and stand by for your response.
Sincerely,
David Arthur Walters
Journalist

Mr. Marvin advised us that Ms. Lopez had voluntarily left The Florida Bar and that he had sent
our letter to her supervisor to determine whether we are missing some of the public record. What
was purportedly the complete file was then forwarded to us. Some of the material previously sent
was not therein, and some of the material in the file had not been received previously. However,
the question remained, and was resubmitted to Mr. Marvin with a proposed answer:
WALTERS: Is this statement correct? A Florida Bar prosecutor does not have to
formally investigate accusations brought and provide a formal finding of no
probable cause on each one of them, but can simply ignore the original complaints
if s/he wishes and initiate and prosecute another complaint instead. So the public
record may have, for example, (blackmail) written all over it, with no declaration
that the accused was exonerated. The public is simply to construe the absence of
an investigation and charges on accusations as findings of no probable cause.
MARVIN: Please see the last section of the rule [below], however you should
note that this case was not dismissed and that it would be inaccurate for you to
think that because certain allegations of the complainant were not pursued that
means that the case was dismissed. You have no reason to state that bar counsel
ignored the original allegations. They were investigated and it was found that
there was insufficient evidence to proceed further. While I agree that it would
make a cleaner record if there were some documentation that the original
allegations were dismissed, it is also clear that the matter was sent to the
grievance committee on one rule violation and it is also clear that the complainant
was sent a copy of the formal complaint.

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Last Section of Rule 3-7.3 (d) Dismissal of Disciplinary Cases. Bar counsel may
dismiss disciplinary cases if, after complete investigation, bar counsel determines
that the facts show that the respondent did not violate the Rules Regulating The
Florida Bar. Dismissal by bar counsel shall not preclude further action or review
under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. Nothing in these rules shall preclude
bar counsel from obtaining the concurrence of the grievance committee chair on
the dismissal of a case or on dismissal of the case with issuance of a letter of
advice as described elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. If a
disciplinary case is dismissed, the complainant shall be notified of the dismissal
and shall be given the reasons therefor.
There we have it from the Director of Lawyer Regulation’s mouth: the case itself was not
dismissed because the complaint brought by The Florida Bar itself was pursued and resulted in a
guilty plea, and the complainant was sent a copy of that complaint. The original two accusations
brought by Mr. Camposecco were allegedly investigated and dismissed for lack of probable
cause, although there is no written record of the investigations and dismissals – to the best of our
knowledge, based on two versions of the public record, no letters advising that no probable cause
was found to bring charges on the first two accusations were issued as per the Rules. Of course
the record would be cleaner with documentation; that is, people interested in the conduct of The
Florida Bar and the regulation of the legal profession could get a clearer picture of what is going
on.
Mr. Marvin could not say exactly how many charges had been brought against attorneys for
threatening to sue or actually suing Florida Bar complainants for defamation or malicious
prosecution for bringing complaints against them. He said there is no code for that type of
offense, and that, from the “seat of his pants,” he could say that not many such complaints had
been made. According to George M. Osborne’s study, none had been made prior to the charge
brought against his client Mr. Eckert. If that is true, we may have a leading Florida Bar case in
The Florida Bar v. Eckert.
Requests to the Florida Bar and the Supreme Court of Florida to promulgate an actual Bar Rule
or to amend Rule 4-8.4(d) to expressly prohibit retaliatory SLAPP-like suits (Strategic Lawsuits
Against Public Participation) are routinely ignored. Further, the lawyer-packed Florida
legislature is prejudiced against any constitutional measure that might effectively restrain the
“inherent powers” of the “independent judiciary.” Any effort to transfer lawyer discipline to the
executive branch, as was done in the mother country recently, would be treasonous blasphemy.
The Florida Bar will merely state that defamation suits against those who lodge complaints
against its licensed attorneys may not be successful provided that the complainant does not
publish the complaint elsewhere – even so, the publication may be privileged since a Bar
complaint in Florida is a public record. That is, if you have the immediate means to defend
yourself, several hundred thousand dollars, against the malicious prosecution of suits, you may
not be “successfully” prosecuted for defamation.
Now, then, in the Eckert case, since we have no way of knowing from the file why the
prosecutor dismissed the original accusations, and the matter is left to the traditionally
revolutionary press because the establishment’s media is too cowardly to criticize the institution
Page 14 of 15 
 

THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

that protects it, we shall dismiss them ourselves; to wit: In respect to the allegedly improper
communications with an opponent’s clients: the communication was had with the consent of the
client’s lawyer, which is proper according to Rule 4-4.2(a). As for the allegation of blackmail i.e.
threatening to introduce a criminal matter to obtain advantage in a civil matter: although the
revelation of a request to obtain illegal pills may have been embarrassing if such a request were
actually made, such a request in itself may not constitute a crime; if the request to obtain illegal
pills were a criminal matter, the revelation of that matter in the civil case would be proper
because the criminal matter and the civil matter were related inasmuch as spending money on
illegal activities, which are presumably unnecessary since prohibited by law, would have a
bearing on the ability of the petitioner in the civil case to make alimony payments to his ex-wife.
The petitioner’s attorney properly limited any discussion of the illegal pills matter to the public
record, i.e. the deposition. Mr. Eckert denied that he intended to or did make an illegal threat. If
there were any extortion here, it is legalized by American Bar Association Opinion 92-363. The
ABA abjures extortion but would not carefully define it since that might unduly restrain the
extortionate trade.
##

Page 15 of 15 
 

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THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS

INFLUENTIAL LAWYER SUED FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
The Florida Bar sat on its "bureaucratic asses" while an influential member
maliciously prosecuted a client for complaining to it
By David Arthur Walters
The Miami Mirror
June 27, 2011
MIAMI BEACH – David Johnson and his wife Jane Johnson, former residents of Palm Beach
County, have filed a complaint in the circuit court of Palm Beach County against Palm Beach
attorney Allen H. Libow, his wife Melissa Libow, and Boca Raton law firm Libow & Shaheen
LLP et al, for malicious prosecution, conspiracy to commit malicious prosecution, and abuse of
process, in regards to a defamation action first asserted by the defendants against the Johnsons in
2004 for filing an absolutely privileged complaint against Libow with The Florida Bar, the
agency of the Florida Supreme Court that licenses lawyers in the state, regulates their conduct,
and represents their political and economic interests.
The defamation suit against the Johnsons was prosecuted by Mrs. Libow’s father, affluent Miami
attorney Arthur W. Tifford, who has not yet been named as a defendant in the Johnsons’
malicious prosecution complaint, and who has now appeared to defend his son-in-law from that
complaint. According to the court docket, attorneys Lisa Weiss and Bruce L. Udolf of Boca
Raton law firm Udolf Libow have appeared to defend Mrs. Libow. The Johnsons are represented
by Steven Jeffrey Rothman. (See case 502011CA001121XXXXMB).
Mr. Johnson’s long-running Bar complaint, originally filed on August 16, 2004, alleged that Mr.
Libow attempted to extort a $100,000 settlement for a disputed legal fee amounting to $1,621
including nearly that amount for unauthorized research. His research of court dockets allegedly
revealed that the Libow law firm had sued up to eighty-one former clients, one of whom he
discovered was forced settle a $3,000 bill for $30,000 rather than shell out more money for
defense. Mr. Johnson, however, said he was determined not to submit to the apparently legal
coercion.
The amount of his own bill had been reduced from $5,014 after he had already paid several
thousand dollars in fees, demanded an accounting, and discovered that he had been billed for his
attorney’s failure to appear for him in the case. The law firm even billed Mr. Johnson another
$397 for itemizing the bill at the hourly rate of $200, a billing that Mr. Johnson believed in itself
was contrary to the rules regulating professional conduct.
At one point, Mr. Libow, who is also a certified public accountant, allegedly admitted to Mr.
Johnson that clients at his firm had been overbilled for research by his lawyer, that downward
adjustments to one client’s bill had been $11,000, and that he, David Johnson, did not owe the
law firm a dime. But he changed his mind when Johnson decided to let that wheelchair-bound
attorney, who had withdrawn from the Libow law firm and whom Mr. Libow had allegedly
Page 1 of 4

THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
disparaged in a vulgar, misogynist manner in his conversation with Mr. Johnson, continue to
handle his case.
The action for the $1,621 balance allegedly due was brought in the small claims court, where
Eric Stockel, an attorney for the Libow law firm, stated to the judge that Mr. Johnson’s
complaint to the Bar was privileged, i.e. immune from retaliatory legal action. Nevertheless, Mr.
Libow asserted a defamation cause of action as a counterclaim in small claims court although it
should have been an independent action in the circuit court. The issue was eventually removed to
the circuit court (see Libow v. Johnson and Johnson, 05-3299 CAA1,
502005CA003299XXXXMB) where it was prosecuted by Mr. Tifford, forcing Mr. Johnson to
engage an attorney to defend himself and his wife until the defamation case was dismissed.
The perversion of the judicial process would cost the Johnsons in excess of a quarter-million
dollars. Mrs. Johnson was named in the defamation suit although she had not signed the Bar
complaint against Mr. Libow and other members of his firm; Mr. Libow admitted in
correspondence with Mr. Johnson that he named her simply to get at her property however it was
held. Since the defamation claim was not a proper counterclaim inasmuch as it was not in the
context of the small claim for fees, but was really a separate claim, and was filed with no legal
basis whatsoever since Mr. Johnson’s complaints to the Bar were absolutely privileged, the
behavior of Mr. Libow and his father-and-law laid the ground for the current malicious
prosecution and abuse of process suit.
Mr. Johnson’s Bar complaint stated that Mr. Libow said Mrs. Libow had put him up to making a
police report against Mr. Johnson—no arrest was made and no charges were brought because
there was no evidence of wrongdoing. And he complained that Mr. Libow was delusional, was
making ―overt death threats‖ including an email allusion to the movie Cape Fear—the
protagonist, doomed to drown in that movie, was a jailhouse lawyer who filed a complaint with
the Bar against his lawyer for ignoring evidence that would have him acquitted although he was
guilty. Mr. Libow implied in one email that he, Mr. Johnson, was a mass murderer, likening his
Bar complaint with the January 2005 murder of Mr. Libow’s babysitter, Shanette Jones, and her
two daughters, Ashley and Joanna Robinson; the girls’ step-father, who had attempted suicide,
was suspected in the shooting. The family had made a lot of money in real estate; Mr. Libow
would represent Shanette Jones’ parents in the wrongful death civil suit.
Mr. Johnson disparaged Mr. Libow’s character in his complaint to the Bar, stating, for example,
that, while ―Jessie James used a horse and a six-gun to carry out his robberies, Mr. Libow uses a
computer and the United States Mail to carry out his.‖ He further claimed that Mr. Libow carried
out said robberies on ―less sophisticated clients‖; had a ―total absence of ethics‖; was guilty to
―concocting a story and filing a false police report‖; ―modified (forged)‖ email; was a
pathological liar predisposed to ―wild accusations‖; overbilled and used unlawful collections
methods; abused the legal process; was a ―psychotic misfit‖ with a ―psychotic agenda,‖ besides
being a ―creative, twisted, lying son of a bitch.‖ After nine months had passed since Mr. Johnson
filed the original complaint, he besought the Bar, which had yet done nothing, to ―get off your
bureaucratic asses and do something before this twisted madman lands us all on the six o’clock
news.‖

Page 2 of 4

THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
The defamation suit against the Johnsons was ultimately dismissed by the circuit court and the
dismissal was affirmed on appeal. The lower court held that most of the statements made were
mere opinions or were hyperbole not to be seriously construed as statements of fact, and that
other assertions were not otherwise actionable. The few fact-like statements that would be
actionable if false were protected or absolutely privileged because they were made in a complaint
to public officials for redress of grievances. Therefore there was nothing to be taken to trial. But
that was not the end of the duress for the Johnsons, who refused to be slapped into silence and
who claimed they had fronted nearly a quarter million dollars to defend themselves, which they
were at a loss to fully recover.
As for The Florida Bar, it took no action against Mr. Libow or other lawyers at his firm or
against his father-in-law, Mr. Tifford, even though threatening to file or filing a suit against
someone for bringing an inquiry or complaint to The Florida Bar is a prima facie violation of the
ethical standards promulgated by the Bar.
For example, in The Florida Bar v James Daniel Eckert, File No. 2009-11,071 (6C), The Florida
Bar averred that Mr. Eckert had represented Jean Camposecco in post dissolution of marriage
proceedings, and that, while the case was pending, the opposing party, Robert Camposecco, filed
an Inquiry/Complaint form against the lawyer with The Florida Bar, which it received on March
4, 2009, alleging that Mr. Eckert had blackmailed him, and had personally called him at home
although he was represented by an attorney, one Phillip McLeod. Those complaints were
dropped or dismissed by the Bar although it did not create a record explicitly discharging them.
However, the Bar on its own initiative charged Mr. Eckert with threatening to sue Mr.
Camposecco with defamation for bringing the complaint. On December 30, 2009, the Sixth
Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee found probable cause for further disciplinary proceedings,
that the Respondent had violated Florida Bar: Rule 4-8.4(d), stating that a lawyer shall not
engage in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration
of justice. The probable misconduct was stated as: ―On or about July 9, 2009, Respondent wrote
a letter to a complainant threatening to sue him for defamation and damages unless he withdrew
his Bar complaint and issued a letter of apology within five days.‖ The lawyer and his attorney
claimed ignorance of the Rule and the common law involved, and copped a plea.
The Florida Bar has not yet been sued for its apparent gross negligence or otherwise taken to task
for its dereliction of duty in the Libow v. Johnson matter although it has been aware of the
infraction of its Rules since 2004 (the Bar has as recently as this 2011 reviewed documents in the
matter) yet did nothing to stop the malicious prosecution of the Johnsons, which would have
saved the courts and everyone else concerned a great deal of aggravation, time and money.
It is reasonable to assume that the power elite at the Bar have a favorable relationship with
Mssrs. Libow and Tifford, or that the persons involved at the Bar are incompetent; in either case
they should be discharged from their offices forthwith, as they would be if they worked for a
good law firm, and perhaps subjected to Bar investigations themselves. That is highly unlikely to
happen, however, unless the Press, the so-called fourth branch of government, is willing to shed
light on the matter, something that two major mainstream publications have failed to do, despite
being fully informed of the particulars of the public record over the past year, presumably
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THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
because professional journalists dare not alienate the judiciary, the source of their press shield
and one of their main news sources.

##

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THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

FROM ‘THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON’
By David Arthur Walters

Scene from Shay’s Rebellion - Classroom Clip Art

“KILL THE LAWYERS”
The Florida Bar, the “arm” of the Florida Supreme Court responsible for the licensing and
disciplining for Florida lawyers and for looking out for their political-economic interests,
advertises on its website that a person who files a complaint with it against a lawyer may not be
successfully sued for doing so providing it is not published elsewhere. Kenneth Marvin, Director
of Lawyer Regulation for the Florida Bar, has also stated as much in writing to inquirers. He
attached to his statement the decision in Tobkin v. Jarboe, 710 So.2d 975 (Fla. 1998), which
holds that a person’s complaint to the Bar against its member is absolutely privileged hence not
subject to retaliatory litigation such as suits for malicious prosecution and defamation, even if the
allegations therein are defamatory and maliciously made, to support the Bar’s position.
Therefore lawyers are presumably held to a higher standard than others, in the interest of
protecting the public from abuses of the extraordinary power they wield as officers of the court.
The Florida Bar relied on that common law, in The Florida Bar v James Daniel Eckert, File No.
2009-11,071 (6C), when it prosecuted an attorney for threatening to sue an opposing litigant for
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defamation of character for filing a complaint with the Bar against him. The aggrieved party
withdrew his complaint; nevertheless, on December 30, 2009, the Sixth Judicial Circuit
Grievance Committee found probable cause for further disciplinary proceedings, that the
Respondent had violated Florida Bar: Rule 4-8.4(d), stating that a lawyer shall not engage in
conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The probable misconduct was stated as: “On or about July 9, 2009, Respondent wrote a letter to
a complainant threatening to sue him for defamation and damages unless he withdrew his Bar
complaint and issued a letter of apology within five days.” Neither Mr. Eckert nor his attorney
had heard of any such a rule in their decades of practicing law in the state, so ignorance of the
rule of “unqualified immunity” i.e. “absolute privilege” was pled and a slap on the wrist was the
result.
As every serious inquirer knows very well, The Florida Bar’s enforcement of its Rules is
selective, to say the least, if not random. Smalltime lawyers are disbarred for conspicuous
instances of theft. Complaints against some of the most affluent and trusted lawyers in the state
were passed over until they were recently arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison by
the federal government. Inconsequential lawyers who kowtow to the Bar are likely to get off
easy when the Bar pursues complaints against them, but woe unto any lawyer who persistently
bucks the system and therefore makes an ass of himself before the Bar by criticizing it or the
judicial elite. Woe unto any lay complainant who does likewise, going so far as to call the Bar an
ass—we recall how Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake on June 1, 1310, after she called
the university law professors asses.
The most glaring example of the Florida Bar’s hypocrisy in respect to the well settled law of
absolute privilege for complaining to the Florida Bar and other government authorities is its
failure to prosecute Allen H. Libow, Esq. and his bevy of attorneys for the malicious prosecution
of David Johnson and his wife for bringing a complaint against him for defamation of character.
Mr. Johnson alleged in his running complaint to the Bar that Mr. Libow, among other things, had
tried to shake him down for $100,000 over trumped up legal fees that had, after Mr. Johnson
disputed them, been reduced by Mr. Libow to $1,621 before he filed his claim in Palm Beach
County Court, after it was pointed out to him that Mr. Johnson had been charged for an
appearance not even made.
The fee dispute arose after Mr. Johnson’s attorney had withdrawn from the Libow law firm; Mr.
Johnson decided that she should take his case with her after Mr. Libow flew into a rage on the
telephone and vulgarly disparaged his former, wheelchair-bound associate. Mr. Libow wanted to
keep the case in house, and at one point he said he would waive whatever balance was due if his
firm was allowed to keep it.
Mr. Johnson, after he was sued for $1,621, checked the court’s docket, and, noticing that claims
for fees had been filed against a great number of the Libow firm’s clients, claims that were
thereafter settled, may have had good reason to believe that Mr. Libow, with the advice and
assistance of his lead attorney and father-and-law, Arthur W. Tifford, were running some sort of
shakedown racket.

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Mr. Tifford began his illustrious career as a judge advocate judging minor cases including
marijuana cases in Vietnam, and then made a great deal of his fortune defending drug dealers
and white-collar fraudsters. We note that he was a sort of house counsel for the notorious Square
Groupers, and has recently starred in a documentary about them. He implies from the huge
judgments he has won that his fortune is grand. However, the grandness of his portion is dubious
because large default judgments against bankrupt firms may be uncollectible, and shares of stock
taken as fees may be worthless. Nevertheless, and despite the recording of several federal tax
liens, he possesses considerable assets and is apparently, at least, an affluent lawyer with
considerable influence on what is called “the Good Old Boys” of the bar.
The case Mr. Libow brought against Mr. Johnson, to retaliate for the Bar complaint and
obviously to give him further incentive to fork over $100,000, was first brought in the county
court and then removed to the circuit court, is variously styled, and can be found in the circuit
court as Libow & Shaheen LLP v. David Johnson & Jane Johnson, brought in the Fifteenth
Judicial Circuit in and for the County of Palm Beach, Case 502005CA003299. The lawsuit was
broken into two parts and both parts were won in the circuit court by the Johnsons, affirmed on
appeals, at a cost to them of nearly $250,000.
The case, which runs into many thousands of pages due to the dilatory and deceptive tactics of
the Libow lawyers, is a monumental demonstration that the Florida Bar will unashamedly stand
by and watch a petitioner who complains about one of its members be bullied and beaten to a
pulp without lifting a finger to protect him from the utter disregard of the very common law and
bar rule it cites in his favor, particularly if Bar counsel does not like the presumably disrespectful
“tone” of the complaint, which might seem offensive to the highly self-esteemed profession at
large. We are mindful here of some of the things that Mr. Johnson said about Mr. Libow, Esq. as
he desperately pressed the Bar to get off its “bureaucratic ass” and do something to protect his
family and the public. Unfortunately for the likes of David Johnson, it is up to the costly and
cumbersome courts and not The Florida Bar to protect the complainants from retaliation for
filing complaints when the Bar has cause to sit on its “bureaucratic ass.”
Mr. Johnson’s complaint to the Bar accused Mr. Libow of extortion among other things, and was
made pursuant to and in accordance with the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar. His letter of
complaint indicated that copies had been sent to other public officials whom he thought were
responsible for regulating the behavior that he complained about; he later swore that no such
copies were actually sent – he would allege that Mr. Libow and his attorney Arthur W. Tifford
knew those copies were not sent but would nevertheless insist that they were, in order to further
distract the court and dilate the proceedings. The complaint was not made nor signed by Mr.
Johnson’s wife; she was, according to Mr. Johnson, malevolently named in the suit simply to
further harass him. Both wives were brought into the fray early on: Melissa T. Libow was made
a plaintiff at one time because Mr. Johnson had said in his complaint to the Florida Bar that he
was “told” that she was on the verge of divorcing her husband for “other transgressions” – the
circuit court tossed out that defamation count because the plaintiff left out the “I am told” portion
of the statement, and did not allege that the statement was substantially untrue. Curiously, after
the Johnsons won their case and turned around and sued the Libows in 2011 for malicious
prosecution and abuse of process, Mrs. Libow sued her husband for divorce but then dropped the
suit.
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It does appear from Mr. Johnson’s grievances that we are dealing with a stereotypical lawyer
reminiscent of revolutionary times, when “Kill the lawyers and burn down the courthouse” was
the outraged plea, an outcry that eventually led the judiciary to circle its wagons and “integrate”
the bar with the bench to bring the former to heel and better repute. Of course, the revolution
would not have succeeded nor would it have established and maintained our great nation without
lawyers to resolve conflicts short of actual violence; wherefore we should give lawyers their due
regard for fighting on one side, for liberty from the dictates of the other. Still, so foul then was
the public opinion of the legal profession that a lawyer accused of the below might not take the
complaint too personally.
According to the public record in the circuit court case, Mr. Johnson complained to the Florida
Bar that Mr. Libow had a “psychotic agenda”, was “mentally unstable,” “mentally un-balanced,”
“intellectually and emotionally unfit for his position of trust in the community,” which “makes
him dangerous to himself and others.” Furthermore, he was a “psychotic misfit” who “abuses the
process of law,” and was “totally out of control,” using “the legal system not as a tool for
resolution but as a weapon of harassment and intimidation,” that he was “one of the most
psychologically disturbed individuals [you] have ever encountered,” who “poses a threat” to the
public, and has the “perverted logic of a psychotic madman.” Moreover, he had a “larcenous
agenda” and of “attempted robbery” in regards to his “overbilling habits.” His “antics” had
allegedly forced Mr. Johnson to settle a claim for pennies on the dollar. In addition, he said, the
lawyer was “an unethical miscreant”, one “filled with ignorance, hatred and vengeance,” whose
“motives in pursuing this matter are in fact malicious and thus unethical.”Mr. Johnson had
written that “Jessie James used a horse and six-gun to carry out his robberies. Mr. Libow uses a
computer and the United States Mail to carry out his.” Further, the Complaint specified that Mr.
Johnson stated that a lawyer with Mr. Libow’s firm said that Mr. Libow, as a “standard practice,”
“performs these robberies on his less than sophisticated clients.” If that were not enough said, he
makes “a calculated effort to…avoid his ethical obligations,” and has a “total absence of ethics.”
Further, he “concocted a story and filed a false police report,” and “uses unlawful [business]
billing practices”, “unlawful and unethical collection methods,” “twists facts and concocts lies,”
and that certain email he sent out is a “forgery.”
Even today most attorneys, although bothered by the characteristically caustic stereotyping of
lawyers, would not stoop to address let alone try to silence such caustic criticism, at least not
unless there were considerable money to be had. Why sue someone for defamation and have
your name dragged through the mud ever the more? You are a lawyer; someone calls you a
crook and a liar; so what? What sort of damage could you possibly suffer in the public eye since
lawyers have been categorically thought of as thieves and liars since ancient times? All that does
not detract from flip side of the contempt for lawyers, from the admiration of their ability to
make a great deal of money by virtue of the vicious sophistication of the Socratic Method;
making wrong seem right, making the worst argument seem the better, and doing whatever else
one can get away with to make a buck, including intimidating people in depositions and
arbitration, picking and choosing facts and concealing evidence.
And the fewer holds barred by The Florida Bar the better; what professional organization in its
right mind would want to restrain the trade of its professionals, for instance, with a Rule
expressly prohibiting them from suing people who complain about them to their regulatory
agency? It is no wonder that the majority of competing lawyers are so demoralized that they
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regret they became lawyers in the first place. Little did David Johnson know when he filed his
initial complaint that the Florida Bar, notwithstanding its arbitrarily enforced token rules, could
really care less about people being roughed up by malicious attorneys, for is not that what
lawyers are licensed to do for a living? In a February 10, 2005, letter to Lillian Archbold and
Joel Klaits, Bar Counsel at the Fort Lauderdale office of The Florida Bar, referencing Florida
Bar case numbers 2004-50,223 (15A) and 2005-50,281 (15A), David Johnson desperately
pleaded that some action be taken to protect him and his wife.
“In an overt attempt to intimidate me and deter me from reporting his unethical and irrational
behavior to the Florida Bar, Allen Libow continues his threats, just as he has done in dozens of
previous e-mails. Libow continues to threaten to ‘sue’ me for ‘libel, slander, defamation,’ etc,
etc, etc. He has claimed to the court that the Bar Complaint filed by me was defamatory and
totally false.”
Mr. Johnson complained about the purportedly meritless lawsuit the Libow firm had filed against
him for $1,621 in fees, and recited the behavior that had caused him and his wife to fear for their
lives. During the course of the litigation, he said, Mr. Libow had leaned across a table at him, put
a finger in his face and screamed, “I’m going to bury you! Do you hear me? I am going to bury
your ass!”
Mr. Johnson evidently has an issue with bureaucrats. Don’t we all? Bureaucrats, as we know, are
members of the fifth wheel of government, whose derrieres are secure and whose feet are rarely
held to the fire. He complained to Bar counsel that six months had passed since he had brought
his initial complaint against Mr. Libow to the attention of the “bureaucrats” at The Florida Bar,
yet he had not even the courtesy of a reply, despite the fact that “several overt death threats” had
been made against him and his wife along with other conduct that led him to believe that the
attorney had ethical and emotional issues that should cause any “prudent governing body to bar
from the practice of law.” Moreover, “Given the nature and tone of previous correspondence
from Allen Libow in the course of events that lead us to today, I have come to realize that Allen
Libow is so emotionally involved as to render him totally incapable of rational discourse. As a
result, I have made a concentrated effort to avoid dealing with him during the resolution of issues
related to the litigation process as well as the pending Bar complaint.”
And Mr. Johnson referred to seven threatening email and five phone calls. For example, he
quotes from an email than Mr. Libow had sent to him and others: “’Our babysitter and her two
daughters were murdered late Saturday, early Sunday in their home. The culprit is a man, who
was our babysitter's husband. His actions are very similar to those taken by Mr. David Johnson
against me and my family.’ Allen Libow goes on to make what sounds like a murder-suicide
threat when he says ‘I am going down big time,’ and, based on that statement, ‘it is you who will
be going down big time.’ In the twisted, delusional logic of Allen Libow, he is able to make the
comparative leap that the filing of a Bar Complaint and a Counter Claim in Small Claims Court
is the legal and ethical equivalent of a TRIPLE HOMICIDE. Now anyone that can make that
comparative leap is certainly capable of making the leap that his antagonist deserves to die and
for him to kill the antagonist is nothing more than the legal and ethical equivalent of filing a
small claims action and a Bar complaint. This is your licensee. His behavior, conduct and logic
are not at all typical or indicative of a rational individual, especially not one licensed by the
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THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

Florida Bar to practice law. There is something seriously wrong here with the reality and
cognitive perceptions of this attorney.”
The Libows and Johnsons were displaying what is known as the Cape Fear Syndrome, an
undesirable psychological complex that sometimes emerges in lawyers and their estranged
clients. They have seen the first movie by that name and know what happens to a vindictive man
self-trained in the law who files a complaint against a lawyer with the state bar for concealing
evidence, and then goes after the lawyer’s family. The jailhouse lawyer is bound to lose at the
end of the perverse process. A licensed lawyer may become so incensed by the resistance of his
unlicensed opponent that he projects his own disposition and imagines that his pro se combatant
is the rapist Max Cady set out to kill his wife and kids; wherefore he wishes him dead; he will do
everything in his power as a licensed lawyer to bury the man for good, even if that means
perverting the judicial process.
According to the accusations in the public record, Mr. Libow, at the alleged instigation of his
wife, had made what a police investigator deemed to be an unsubstantiated accusation, that Mr.
Johnson had threatened his family. And Mr. Johnson referred Florida Bar counsels to the “CAPE
FEAR” email received from Mr. Libow, noticing that the lawyer in that movie had killed a man
who had threatened his family and filed a bar complaint against him with the North Carolina Bar.
The meaning of the only two words, “CAPE FEAR,” put in uppercase in Mr. Libow’s email, was
certainly not lost on the several recipients, especially Mr. Johnson.
“The attorney is desperate to rid himself of this man,” Mr. Johnson recounted. “In an effort to do
so the attorney hires some local thugs to track down and then physically assault the attorney’s
antagonist. The assault by the attorney’s hired thugs fails to deter the antagonist. The story ends
when the attorney has killed his antagonist! Now I don’t give a damn who you are, how big you
are, how tough you are or how many guns you own, that is a frightening threat.”
“As a consequence of the Florida Bar’s failure to take some remedial action against this
attorney, my wife and I have become prisoners in our own home. Allen Libow clearly has a
perverted perception of reality…. We now lock every door behind us every time as we come and
go. In the evenings we are forced to close all the blinds for fear that Allen Libow (or someone
hired by him) will find justification in his troubled mind to shoot one of us in the back as we sit
in our own home. We have an office in our home. Before we became the targets of Allen Libow
I thought nothing of sitting with my back to that window. Now when my wife enters the room if
the blinds are open behind me she will close them and cautions me to do the same. No one
should have to live in fear of a paranoid and deranged attorney. My wife and I live that way
every day now.”
Let us keep in mind that it still takes two to tango in swampy Florida. Emotions can be especially
contagious and tormenting in subtropical climes. Anger, and fear of retaliation for angry
thoughts and deeds, can be ramped up through a positive feedback cycle until the reactors
virtually melt down and chaos ensues. We can fairly speculate that the Libows were keeping
their doors locked and blinds pulled too, and perhaps they had a shotgun, assault rifle, and
several pistols readily available given Florida gun laws.

~ 6 ~ 

 

THE MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

We have elsewhere speculated that there was a tipping point in the relationship between Mr.
Johnson and Mr. Libow, where Mr. Johnson might have massaged the lawyer’s ego and gotten
the man off his back. And there was a point like that, where Mr. Johnson tried to bend over
backwards and let bygones be bygones, but no dice. He became increasingly alarmed by Mr.
Libow’s persistent tone and demeanor, and Mr. Johnson’s temperament does not incline him to
cower before any intimidating man. Further, what the lawyer had done was, to put it simply,
wrong; so here we have here a “matter of principle” to fight over at all costs. Many Christians
today forgive others so they can feel better themselves. But we think Mr. Johnson will never
forgive Mr. Libow and his father-in-law Mr. Tifford for the persecution he and his family have
suffered at their hands, nor is he liable to excuse Mr. Libow’s behavior as the product of
temporary insanity or chemical influences, and sit down with him, Mr. Tifford and Jack Daniels
one day in Mr. Tifford’s fabulous hideaway home in Rhode Island. By Golly, this is a case of
original sin, of God versus Satan, and that cannot be changed. This is a family feud, a case of
enemies for life at least. We note well the remarks of the Court in the case:
“It is truly not an exaggeration to state that in the combined twenty-five (25) years
of legal experience as a litigator and judge that this court has not seen a more
contentious and unfortunate case history as the instant litigation.” “The instant
litigation has not been aided by the fact that the Libow firm has been primarily
represented by Allen Libow’s father-in-law, Arthur W. Tifford, Esq. and Mr.
Libow’s sister-in-law, Alexandra L. Tifford, Esq. Unfortunately, their
involvement has only served to increase the personal tension between themselves
(inclusive of Mr. Libow) and David Johnson.”
Some judges would simply dismiss Mr. Johnson’s case because it is just another bitter feud
between a lawyer and client, without considering who initiated the feud and holding him liable.
The lawyer would naturally favor the lawyer over the non-lawyer, but we expect the judge to put
aside his professional prejudice to do impartial justice in the case at hand. We might dislike if not
hate lawyers, and want to kill every last one of them, but without them and the vast system of
conflict resolution they serve, people would have resort to violent feuds and the nation would
devolve into chaos until, at least, a primitive feudal system was established with definite codes.
Mr. Johnson concluded one of several futile pleas to the bar with, “The Florida Bar has thus far
been remiss to take any action whatsoever against an attorney that clearly has no business in the
practice of law. While Allen Libow is obviously a contestant in your popularity contest, I’m not.
And neither are the countless other people that have and will eventually fall victim to the
unethical practices of Allen Howard Libow Esq. The time has come for you folks to get off your
bureaucratic asses and tend to this situation ASAP, before this attorney does something that
lands us all on the front page of the newspaper. The time has come for peaceful law abiding
people like ourselves to be free from the threat of imminent danger from a lawyer whose
abysmally unethical conduct falls directly under the purview, authority and responsibility of the
Florida Bar. I remain, Sincerely, David Johnson.”
Florida Bar counsel was offended by Mr. Johnson’s sincere tone; Mr. Johnson said his complaint
was dismissed that day with a chilling criticism of his rude manners. But never mind; he would
continue complaining for justice ever since, thus far to no effect.
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Thus it appears that whether or not Florida Bar staff and counsel investigate and prosecute a
complaint may depend on the tone in which it is made and followed up on. If Mr. Johnson had
played nice, if he had maintained a tender, sweet or ingratiating tone, if he had gotten down on
his knees, looking up admiringly while beseeching the authorities, the Florida Bar might have
put an end to the malicious prosecution of himself and his wife by one of its highly esteemed
members.
But we cannot be sure if Mr. Johnson’s manners were the cause of the Florida Bar’s gross
negligence. As Martin Luther noted on several occasions when he was called to task for his
logical absurdities, a god works in mysterious i.e. self-contradictory ways. And the Florida Bar
might have an ulterior motive for its continuous dismissal of Mr. Johnson’s running complaint,
which it is fully aware of to this day. Perhaps detectives will discover and disclose the facts, and
lawyers will have the courage to take the Bar before the bar to hold it liable to the full extent of
the law for what it has done and not done in respect to the case of David Johnson and all like
him.

~ 8 ~ 

 

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
FROM ‘THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON’
by David Arthur Walters

REEFER MADNESS & THE SQUARE GROUPER

Scene from ‘Reefer Madness’

Allen H. Libow, Esq. was obviously mad at David Johnson for filing a complaint against him
with the Florida Bar claiming that he had tried to extort $100,000 from him over a $1,621 legal
fee claim, but was he more than mad—was he a madman?
The adversarial legal profession is, after all, well known for a high incidence of mental illness
within its ranks. Mr. Johnson’s bar aggravating complaint referred to Mr. Libow as a “psychotic
misfit” with a “psychotic agenda,” and a “creative, twisted, lying son of a bitch.” After Mr.
Libow filed his retaliatory complaint against Mr. Johnson and his wife, who was not even a party
to the bar complaint, for defamation, the circuit court would hold the particular references to the
lawyer’s mental state are matters of subjective opinion and not statements of objective fact,
hence not actionable in a defamation case, but the court declared certain other statements as
actionable. Eventually the court dismissed every count against Mr. Johnson, and the appeals of
Mr. Libow and his affluent attorney and father-and-law Arthur W. Tifford would force the
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appellate court to affirm. All told, Mr. Johnson had to shell out around a quarter of a million
dollars to defend his family against the licensed predators while the Florida Bar sat on its hands.
If Mr. Libow were mad, was there a method to his madness? Perhaps he was mad about money
and thought he could pick up a quick hundred grand. The profession certainly has a problem with
bad-mannered attorneys who behave rudely if not crazily to get their way. Mr. Johnson did a
little research of the court records and discovered that Mr. Libow had sued scores of his own
clients. He figured most of them had settled rather than hire another attorney to defend them. It
also appeared to him that Mr. Libow had brought in his big gun, Mr. Tifford, to put the squeeze
on the recalcitrant ones where the money involved made it worthwhile. Given the circumstances,
an innocent bystander might assume they were running some sort of racket—perhaps Rico, the
legendary gangster after whom the RICO Act was named, was afoot.
An examination of the public record in the court and bar cases gives us a definite impression that
Mr. Libow panicked easily and was unduly paranoid – lawyers have good reason to be paranoid
when everyone is out to get them in the adversarial war of all against all. Many of Mr. Libow’s
partners were apparently out to get him; he had a habit of suing or threatening to sue many of
them, so he should have not been surprised when he was told they did not like him. His behavior
suggests that he may have been suffering from anxiety associated with the bipolar or borderline
psychological disorders.
A great number of people treat themselves with cannabis if not prescription drugs for relief of
anxiety, all of which have side effects and might even aggravate the symptoms. Rumors were
bandied about the law firm that Mr. Libow had inhaled. Marijuana is an intoxicating narcotic that
hundreds of thousands of Floridians including lawyers happen to regularly enjoy and would like
to legalize. For example, Scott Rothstein, at one time the mostly highly respected and powerful
attorney in Florida, personal friend of the governor and responsible for recommending judicial
appointments, had what he called his rock star life come to an abrupt end when he was caught
running a massive Ponzi scheme; testifying recently in an attempt to get his 50-year sentence
reduced by ratting out his fellow attorneys, he said that so much pot was being dealt and smoked
around the law firm across the street from a whorehouse he had established for them that he was
more worried about being busted for that than for his fraud operation.
The drug apparently enhances malignant narcissism, delusions of grandeur and persecution, and
is not conducive to the operation of machinery or the practice of law; indeed, the Florida Bar
should mandate drug screening for all licensed attorneys. The deleterious effects of cannabis
were exploited early on in the movie Reefer Madness. Smoking pot is not as harmless as its
proponents think it to be nowadays, nor is it as harmful as portrayed in Reefer Madness. Still,
scientific studies provide ample evidence that marijuana use unleashes paranoia and induces
anxiety and panic attacks. For example, nearly half of the healthy subjects tested at Yale
University experienced psychotic symptoms under the influence of the drug’s active ingredient.
If Mr. Libow was using pot, his attorney and father-and-law should have stopped him. Arthur W.
Tifford, a member of the Florida Bar since 1967, could certainly attest to the awful truth about
the drug’s side effects depicted in Reefer Madness given his experience as a judge advocate in
Vietnam, where he handled a number of petty marijuana possession cases as a special-court
martial military judge, and his experience defending infamous pot smugglers in Florida from the
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late 70s through the early 90s—he returned to Florida from Vietnam after a stint at the Naval
Justice School in Rhode Island, and served in Miami as an Assistant U.S. Attorney specializing
in fraud and racketeering cases before he became a criminal defense lawyer specializing in drug
cases, and turned to white collar criminal defense when the drug money dried up.
Capt. Tifford graduated from Brooklyn Law School, who became a member of the Florida Bar in
1967, was attached to the 1st Marine Division. On Aug. 1, 1969, the day the Military Justice Act,
designed to replace the old disciplinary system with a more judicial process, was signed by
President Johnson, Capt. Tifford and other lawyers at the Da Nang Headquarters were sworn in
as military judges. The new military judges would have authority similar to federal district court
judges. They were usually captains, on their first tour of duty, who were given 10-days militaryjudge training in the Philippines. There was a rush to appoint the new judges due to a major
break down in discipline, general disrespect for authority, and increase in crimes including
serious crimes such as armed racial conflicts and fraggings. Marijuana offenses were so
prevalent that the general-court martial system was overloaded and seldom resulted in even
special court-martials. Colonel Robert D. Heinl had summed up the situation with, “By every
conceivable indicator, our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state of approaching
collapse…. Murdering their officers and noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden and
dispirited…buffeted from without and within by social turbulence…race war…and common
crime…. Often reviled by the public, the uniformed services today are places of agony for the
loyal, silent professionals who doggedly hang on and try to keep the ship afloat.”
Special court-martial Judge Advocate Tifford and his colleagues were therefore responsible for
nipping pot use in the bud, hopefully before general court-martial behavior ensued from its
psychotropic affects. Roughly half of the cases tried by Capt. Tifford and the other special-court
martial judges rushed into Vietnam were marijuana cases. A breakdown in authority had been
correctly attributed to the widespread use of the drug. Marijuana was available from unsavory
characters on every corner, costing only ten cents for the leaves wrapped around a stick. In a
dangerous environment, such as in war where the prohibition against murder has been
suspended, smoking marijuana might induce a state of paranoia that could result in violent
reactions against perceived enemies. Although pot could be purchased easily and cheaply on
leave, its distribution was controlled on bases by dealers, some of whom would not hesitate to
grenade informants.
Colonel Robert D. Heinl summed up the situation at the time: “By every conceivable indicator,
our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state of approaching collapse…. Murdering their
officers and noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden and dispirited…buffeted from without and
within by social turbulence…race war…and common crime…. Often reviled by the public, the
uniformed services today are places of agony for the loyal, silent professionals who doggedly
hang on and try to keep the ship afloat.”
Army General William C. Westmoreland said he was aghast when he heard that soldiers were
smoking pot in their bunkers and consequently killing other soldiers. He said it did not happen or
rarely happened. But judge advocates knew such offenses were unexceptional. A crackdown on
marijuana usage was deemed necessary – fragmentation grenades should be accounted for and
kept out of the hands of soldiers when not in the field.
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Marines and Military Law in Vietnam – Trial by Fire (Dec. 1989), provides an example
appertaining to the murder of First Lieutenant Tim Rohweller commanded Company K, 3d
Battalion, 9th Marines:
‘Late that night, Smith, Napier, Egan, and Dudley, joined by Private First Class
Bobby R. Greenwood and Lance Corporal Hercules E. Brooker, sat before the
transient hooch smoking marijuana and discussed Smith's plan. According to
Brooker's later trial testimony, Smith said, "Lieutenant Rohweller and Lieutenant
Newsome are in the rear, and when those m*******s go to the field, they're
taking every f****ing body with them." Smith said of Lieutenant Rohweller that
he, Smith, was "going to 'do' that m********** as soon as he crashes" and
discussed his plan to frag the lieutenant. Dudley told Smith that he was crazy and
left the group. At 0210 on 21 April those in the transient hooch were awakened by
an explosion. An M26 fragmentation grenade had detonated in the neighboring
company office directly under the cot upon which Lieutenant Rohweller slept and
inflicted shrapnel wounds of the head, chest, and abdomen.’
Let the voluminous court records archived over the decades show that Judge Advocate Tifford
learned much during his career including some tricks of the trade in Vietnam. He has a wealth of
litigation experience under his belt; he is certainly no slouch when it comes to caviling and
pettifoggery and boasting about the large judgments he has won. He is a wizard at pulling rabbits
out of the hat wherever his fortune is concerned. Indeed, the sophist will use every trick inside
and outside of the book he can get away with to get his way, including hypnotizing a judge in the
Libow v. Johnson case into thinking the same case is two different cases, and that wrong is right
and right is wrong, anything at all to add to his considerable estate. One of his favorite tactics is
burying the court in documents and then rewriting case history as it progresses, making
numerous misstatements about the content of a filing made thousands of pages in the past.
He does not take a case for nothing. When he takes one, he looks out for number one first, so
everyone but him may lose if given the worst case scenario. Somehow he will come out with
something for himself even when a case is hopeless—try to get the court to order a detailed
accounting of his costs, including the consultant in Canada, which might exceed the judgment
awarded. One thing is for sure, if there were no money for him in his son-in-law’s allegedly
malicious and abusive defamation suit against the Johnsons, he would not have bothered with it
except perhaps to warn his son-in-law that defamation cases may cause the disparagement
complained of to be published even further so that the truth might be ascertained in the public
forum – later on, he tried without success to get the record sealed by the court.
Mr. Tifford has reason to boast about his history but he exaggerates. Several of the huge awards
he obtained are default judgments against bankrupt companies, and he may have trouble
collecting fees paid in the form of potentially worthless stock. We get a further inkling of his
nature from his profile on his firm’s website, which states that he “began his career in the law in
Vietnam as a Judge Advocate General for the United States Marine Corps and a Military Judge,
among other responsibilities.” And again: “He has also been certified as a judge advocate
general of the United States Marine Corps and Military Judge j.g. (currently referred to as
Military Magistrate Judge) pursuant to Article 27(b), Uniform Code of Military Justice, Title 10
Appendix, United States Code.” i
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“General” Tifford’s copy is patently overblown, creating the appearance that he is of much
higher rank than he is. He is just a military lawyer or judge advocate, a grunt lawyer and not the
Judge Advocate General. The Marine Corp, whose chief legal officer is called Staff Advocate
General, which recognizes that there is only one Judge Advocate General in the Naval Service,
falls within the civilian Department of the Navy. There is only one Judge Advocate General of
the Navy at any one time. He is the highest ranking uniformed lawyer in the Navy. He is the
chief legal advisor to the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations. By law that
person is appointed a three-star vice admiral or lieutenant general while in office. He can be a
Marine, but only one Marine appears on the current list of Judge Advocate Generals: William
Butler Remey, who served as Judge Advocate General 1880-1892.
At least Mr. Tifford’s advertisement cites the Uniform Code of Military Justice that properly
identifies him, not as a “Judge Advocate General”, but as a mere judge advocate, i.e. a military
lawyer, and a military judge. Not many people would bother to look up the Code:
§801. ART. 1. DEFINITIONS (1) "Judge Advocate General" means, severally,
the Judge Advocates General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and, except when
the Coast Guard is operating as a service in the Navy, the General Counsel of the
Department of Transportation. (10) "Military Judge" means an official of a
general or special court-martial detailed in accordance with section 826 of this
title (article 26). (13) "Judge Advocate" means - - (A) an officer of the Judge
Advocate General's Corp of the Army or the Navy; (B) an officer of the Air Force
or the Marine Corps who is designated as a judge advocate; or (C) an officer of
the Coast Guard who is designated as a law specialist. §827. ART. 27. DETAIL
OF TRIAL COUNSEL AND DEFENSE COUNSEL (b) (b) Trial counsel or
defense counsel detailed for a general court-martial - - (1) must be a judge
advocate who is a graduate of an accredited law school or is a member of the bar
of a Federal court or of the highest court of a State; or must be a member of the
bar of a Federal court or of the highest court of a State; and (2) must be certified
as competent to perform such duties by the Judge Advocate General of the armed
force of which he is a member.
Marine lawyers were authorized to call themselves “judge advocate” by amendment to the
Uniform Code of Military Justice of 1950, as amended by Military Justice Act of 1968 signed by
President Johnson; the Act afforded new due process rights to defendants in special courtmartials where intermediate offenses are tried – minor offenses are dealt with in summary courtmartials and major offenses tried in general court-martials. An accused, instead of having a
disciplinary summary-court martial, where he would have no right to defense counsel and an
independent judge or jury, could opt to have his case tried in special-court martial by a “military
judge”, a lawyer serving as a judge, where certain due process rights would automatically be
observed. The designation “military judge” replaced the former designation “law officer.”
Incidentally, Mr. Tifford likes to brag about his service in Vietnam, referring to his law office as
a war room, pointing at commendations on the walls while claiming that he worked with the CIA
interrogating prisoners, but he took no prisoners, he put people in body bags, and the like.

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Frame from ‘Square Grouper – The Godfathers of Ganja’

Mr. Tifford is currently a movie star in the recent documentary, ‘Square Grouper – The
Godfathers of Ganja’, Director Billy Corben’s examination of the 1970s and '80s pot-smuggling
culture in South Florida. The film opened in Miami on April 15, 2011, which would have been
the due date for filing personal income tax returns if it had not been put off until the 18th of the
month because of the District of Columbia’s Emancipation Day.
Mr. Tifford was apparently house counsel of sorts for the Black Tuna Gang, representing the
likes of the main principals, Robert Platshorn and Robert Meinster, who also appeared in the
film, not to mention Mark Steven Phillips, who had been on the run for 31 years before his
arrest.
Mr. Platshorn, who has been known to prevaricate, called Mr. Phillips a “bit player” and an
outsider who never sold as much as a seed of pot. The Black Tuna Gang was charged with
smuggling several hundred million dollars of pot into the United States; Mr. Phillips was
implicated in providing and customizing boats for the operation. Mr. Phillips came out of hiding
in Florida, thinking the warrants for his arrest had been cleared. He had only $600 to his name;
he declared his income to be $667 per month from Social Security, so the court appointed him
counsel. Apparently, Mr. Tifford was not interested in representing him pro bono despite his
affection for the good old days.
“I was standing on a Miami street corner in deep shock after my van was totaled by a lady who
ran a light at full speed,” said Mr. Platshorn in a February 1, 2011 contribution to New Times. “I
could barely figure out how to use my cell to call my wife and ask her to call a wrecker to tow
away my sweet little old 1993 Villager when I got an incoming call from Art Tifford, my longtime attorney. ‘Mark Phillips has been kidnapped in Chile and returned to the states for
sentencing.’”
Mr. Platshorn claimed in his submission that Mr. Phillips was more of a pal than a member of the
gang, and that it was Mr. Phillip’s father whom they dealt with at Striker Yachts. He said a story
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about a suitcase of cash might have been true, but Mr. Phillips was certainly not the gang’s
treasurer as had been claimed. That would be the bookkeeper, Howard Blumin. So poor Mr.
Phillips, whom he said is basically innocent of wrongdoing, will now have to die in prison.
The court documents said otherwise, averring that Mr. Phillips had a major role in the operation.
And Mr. Platshorn himself had not downplayed Mr. Phillip’s role when interviewed by Brantley
Hargrove for an article published by Broward-Palm Beach New Times on June 18, 2008,
wherein he outlined some of the adventures of the gang. Mr. Platshorn said that Mr. Phillip’s was
a screw-up, that everything he touched turned to shit. One adventure proceeded with an offload
of 22,000 pounds of pot to a boat off Cape Fear. The load was then taken up the Cape Fear River
to the Brunswick River destination, where Customs officials moved in for the bust—we note
here that Mr. Tifford’s client and son-in-law Allen H. Libow would eventually threaten David
Johnson with “CAPE FEAR.”
In 1992, Mr. Tifford represented Mr. Blumin, who had informed on the Black Tuna Gang in a
tax case (Platshorn & Meinster v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1992-694): “The issues for
decision are: (1) Whether respondent correctly determined that petitioners had unreported
income in the amounts determined for each of their respective taxable years in issue, and (2)
whether petitioners are liable for an addition to tax under section 6653(b) for each of their
respective years in issue.” Yes and yes.
Mr. Blumin was the bagman for the operation, and the court noted that he carried around very
large amounts of cash. Mr. Blumin is also a member of the ‘Square Grouper’ cast. We do not
know if Mr. Blumin testified about how the amount of the legal fees, and when and how they
were paid.
Perhaps no one will ever know how well Mr. Tifford fared representing drug smugglers.
Everyone knows that legal fees were often paid with bags and suitcases full of cash from drug
sales back in the day; since then, money laundering laws have been enacted generally prohibiting
such receipt of dirty money.

We have noticed that Mr. Tifford served as an instructor at the Naval Justice School in Newport
after his return to the States from Vietnam. He possesses to this day a luxurious hideaway home
in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island, assessed at less than $2 million – it may be worth far
more. The house was built and improvements were made over several years after the land was
purchased, and includes such custom-made features as rafters taken from a barn. Mr. Tifford
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purchased the land in 1979 for $24,750, or around $75,000 in current dollars, land now assessed
at $517,000.
Mr. Tifford may have found his coffers short of cash in the late 80s, ten years after he was
released from custody, having sunk his surplus funds into his properties. Judges were no longer
so willing to let drug smugglers off on novel constitutional grounds; the easy-money faucet of
the business had gone dry, leaving him and other criminal lawyers with diminished cash flow. In
1989, Mr. Tifford pled guilty to disciplinary charges brought against him by The Florida Bar in
regards to the issuance of several worthless checks from his office operating account, ranging in
amount from $1 to $9,839. The Supreme Court of Florida (Case 74,809) merely slapped him on
the wrist despite his previous criminal record; he got a public reprimand and had to pay costs of
$598.
The Rhode Island land was purchased shortly after he was released from custody for a 1975
felony conviction. He managed to have the jury conviction ultimately overturned in federal court
by way of writ of habeas corpus in March of 1978. The state failed to make a timely response to
the motion for the writ, and then lost an appeal to undo the mistake in the federal case styled
Arthur W. Tifford, Petitioner-appellee v. Louie L. Wainwright, Secretary, Department of
Offender Rehabilitation, Respondent-appellant (588 F.2d 954). The federal court stated that the
failure of the state to respond in time was not really fatal inasmuch as the writ would have been
issued anyway because Mr. Tifford’s rights to a fair trial had been jeopardized in the state court
because the court had refused to sever his case from the main defendant, his former client S.K.
Bronstein, who said he would exonerate Mr. Tifford if they were tried separately. The Florida
Supreme Court ruled that the federal disposition of the case was tantamount to an acquittal; but
the Court declared that the Florida Bar might want to make further inquiries into the matter,
which it lazily declined to do despite the fact that he was convicted by a jury after evidence
against him was presented. His license to practice law in Florida was reinstated in 1979.
In 2011, a litigant said she overheard Mr. Tifford say in open court, after accusing someone of
being a convicted felon—one of his favorite tactics to destroy the credibility of an opponent—
that he himself had never been convicted and incarcerated for a crime. Yet Mr. Tifford was in
fact convicted; he was certainly jailed after being arrested; he may have served time in prison
after convicted, although the state prison bureau has no record of his incarceration—a
spokesperson said there was an indication that the record may have been expunged.
Hypothetically, he could have been out on bond pending appeals, and therefore still in “custody”
although not incarcerated, and was thus subject to a writ of habeas corpus; although he was in
fact convicted, the conviction may be considered as illegitimate and never occurring since the
later event was declared tantamount to an acquittal.
Mr. Tifford has apparently done very well for himself since the Square Grouper days, but again,
his advertisements seem overblown, and are indicative of his general approach. For example, his
webpage brags that he and his firm received Top Verdicts in 2001 and 2005.
In 2001, Mr. Tifford came in as No. 6 in the National Law Journal’s Top 100 Verdicts with a
whopping award of $388,910,000 in Universal Express Inc. v. Selection Capital Advisors Inc.
Mr. Tifford had represented Universal and two of its principals in the SEC action brought against
them for massive fraud, which continued even after the firm was ordered to fork over $22
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million. The principal operators of both plaintiff and defendant had been and/or were on their
way to prison. Universal Express was a package-shipping and postal store operator, and had
made a financial arrangement with Selection Capital which involved long-term financing, which
was never put in place as promised, and the conversion of debentures to stock, which put 2
million shares of Universal Express stock in Selection Capital’s hands. The complaint against
Selection Capital alleged that it engaged in a pump-and-dump and naked short selling scheme,
rigging Universal’s penny to rise then selling it short without intending nor having the means in
place to deliver the stock sold. Billions of shares, six to ten times the outstanding shares of the
company, were traded in a short period of time at far less than a penny per share.
The judgment against Selection Capital was given in default as no one showed up at the trial.
The National Law Journal listed collection of the amazing sum as “pending.” Selection Capital
was dissolved, so Mr. Tifford went after its principal, ex-convict Ronald Williams, and managed
to collect $987,500 in cash and penny stocks in different companies, most of those shares being
restricted. Mr. Tifford was able to liquidate some of the penny stocks for $136,000, so a total of
$1,123,500 was yielded at one point during Universal’s receivership, all of which went to Mr.
Tifford towards his 40% contingency fee and expenses – he said the amount “almost covered”
his expenses. Mr. Tifford continued to hold some of the restricted penny stocks. They were in his
name, but he was supposed to hold the stocks for the benefit of Universal Express; that is, with
the exception of stock in Tandem Energy Holdings, Inc, which he kept for himself.
On October 25, 2007, the market value of the shares Mr. Tifford held for Universal Express was
$450,000. In fine, the value of the judgment against Select Capital on that date was only
$1,573,000 and not the $388,910,000 awarded in the uncontested case.
Mr. Tifford tried unsuccessfully to liquidate the shares in Tandem Energy – the company said the
shares were worthless, unregistered shares – so he is pursuing the matter in a Nevada court.
The S.E.C. had gone after Universal Express and its principals, Richard A. Altomare, and Chris
G. Gunderson, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,
accusing them of securities fraud. According to the S.E.C., when, on June 21, 2007, it asked that
a receiver be appointed, the defendants were “repeated and remorseless violators” who had
engaged in “numerous and inexcusable instances of securities law violations over the course of at
least four years and gained substantial monies in relation to these violations -- which included
fraud at the likely expense of Universal Express shareholders and the investing public…. ” Mr.
Tifford represented the defendants, but had to withdraw when it was disclosed that the F.B.I. was
after Mr. Gunderson and Mr. Altomare, which gave him a conflict of interest in respect to Mr.
Gunderson. The defendants were ordered to pay millions of dollars in penalties, disgorgement of
ill-gotten gains, and interest. The defendants paid nothing and appealed. Mr. Altomare continued
to sell Universal Express stock. The appeal failed. He would eventually go to jail, insisting all
along that he had been crucified by the S.E.C. for exposing short sellers.
Mr. Tifford’s No. 11 ranking in the National Law Journal’s Top 100 Verdicts for 2005 was for a
$163, 591,939 award in McKinney v. Bob’s Barricades Inc., a premises liability case involving a
sidewalk that had been closed, forcing people to walk onto the highway, where a car slammed
into Patricia McKinney’s boy, damaging his brain. But the award was reduced to $5 million
because, moments before the jury came in with the high verdict, Mr. Tifford had negotiated a
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high-low arrangement that capped the defendant’s liability at $5 million. He said it was a gamble
that had to be taken because immediate payment was assured, noting that awards were almost
invariably reduced, wherefore the guardian, as a trustee with a fiduciary duty to her
catastrophically injured ward, was obligated to take the conservative approach. He said that
many were the times when he had thought he had won a case but it was not really won in the
end; this way, the money would be paid within a month.
Coincidentally, on August 4, 2004, the same day that Mr. Tifford’s son-in-law Allen H. Libow
and his firm Libow and Muskat LLP would file suit against David Johnson in Florida, the Libow
law firm filed suit in Florida against Universal Express. Richard Altomare and Christopher
Gunderson would also be named as defendants. An attorney by the name of James S. Usich
appeared for Universal Express, and then, on January 14, 2005, he withdrew, leaving the
defendants unrepresented. On January 31, 2005, an attorney by the name of Steven Schwartzberg
appeared and filed a notice to depose Mr. Libow and his partner William M. Shaheen. Suddenly,
a joint stipulation of settlement was filed. Four days later, Mr. Tifford filed his notice of
appearance in federal court in New York City on behalf of Universal Express, Richard Altomare
and Christopher Gunderson. Walla! So the same law family, Tifford-Libow, sues the stock
manipulators and then defends them.
Now that we have an inkling of what Mr. Tifford does for a living long after he sat as a specialcourt martial judge in marijuana cases, noticing that he is capable of out-manipulating master
stock manipulators, we shall continue with our account of the Johnson case.
NOTE:
                                                            
i
 Arthur W. Tifford Biography 

[email protected]



Education
J.D., Brooklyn Law School, 1967
B.S., Queens College, 1965

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Bar & Court Admissions
Florida Bar
New York Bar
U.S. District Courts, Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida
U.S. Court of Appeals, First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits
U.S. Tax Court
U.S. Court of Military Appeals
U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Arthur Tifford is a shareholder in the firm. He practices in all areas of complex civil litigation
and federal white collar criminal defense. Arthur Tifford graduated from Brooklyn Law School
in 1967. He was admitted to the Florida and New York Bars in 1967. He began his career in the
law in Vietnam as a Judge Advocate General for the United States Marine Corps and a Military
Judge, among other responsibilities. Following his return to the states, he served as an instructor
at the Naval Justice School, Newport before returning to his civilian career which then started
with his position as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida,
where he worked in the Criminal Division. While there, he created and headed the Special
Prosecutions Section of the Criminal Division. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Tifford supervised
federal grand jury investigations and specialized in jury trials involving mail fraud, wire fraud
and racketeering. During his tenure as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mr. Tifford received the
outstanding performance rating awarded by the United States Department of Justice.
Mr. Tifford has been in private practice in Miami, Florida since 1972 specializing in complex
civil litigation and federal white collar criminal defense. He has received many awards including:
National Law Journal "Top 100 Verdicts" in 2005, 2003 and 2001. See Highlights page for
awards and other recognition.
Mr. Tifford is licensed to practice law as a member in full and good standing before the Supreme
Court of Florida, the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, the United States District
Courts for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida, the United States Courts of
Appeal for the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits, the United States
Court of Federal Claims, United States Tax Court, and the United States Court of Military
Appeals (recently renamed). He has also been certified as a judge advocate general of the United
States Marine Corps and Military Judge j.g. (currently referred to as Military Magistrate Judge)
pursuant to Article 27(b), Uniform Code of Military Justice, Title 10 Appendix, United States
Code.
Feb. 24, 2011 SOURCE : http://www.tiffordlaw.com/attorneys.php 
 

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SUPERLAWYER BEGS TO BE DISBARRED 
A feared and loathed Miami attorney petitions the Supreme Court of Florida to 
permanently disbar him. 
By David Arthur Walters
THE MIAMI MIRROR
July 23, 2013
MIAMI BEACH—It appears that the long and illustrious career of Miami lawyer Arthur W.
Tifford is coming to an end soon, at least in Florida—he is also licensed to practice in New York.
On July 8, 2013, Tifford filed a ‘Petition for Disciplinary Revocation of his License Without
Leave to Reapply for Admission.’ The Florida Bar has a complaint against him that it is keeping
secret for now. Tifford’s Petition filed with the Florida Supreme Court reveals that it involves the
misuse of trust accounts.
Tifford would rather ‘resign than be fired’ from his noble profession, metaphorically speaking.
Kenneth Marvin, Director of Lawyer Regulation for The Florida Bar, objected to the notion that
a Disciplinary Revocation is a voluntary “resignation.” He asked: Would someone voluntarily
have their driver’s license revoked? Perhaps he would, we thought, if he were no longer fit to
drive, or if the revocation would save him from a head-on collision. Tifford was unavailable for
comment before deadline.
The semantics: Disciplinary Revocation used to be called a “Disciplinary Resignation,” but the
word was changed, according to Marvin, because the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar felt
that ‘resignation’ sounded voluntary and ‘revocation’ sounded more disciplinary
The Bar must have absolute proof in this case of something very serious, indeed, for Tifford is
not a lawyer who goes down without a fight. In fact, he seldom goes down, preferring to stand
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his ground to the dead end. And it is his pertinacity if not the merits of a case that gives him the
results that cause him to brag that he is a Superlawyer with some of the largest annual wins in
history under his belt—at least one of them appears to be a default judgment against a virtually
bankrupt entity. On the other hand, the feisty 70-years-old lawyer may want to retire to enjoy his
rumored millions in real estate and offshore accounts with the least aggravation. Many of us let
our driver’s licenses lapse in old age.
Tifford went to law school in Brooklyn. He recently called himself the Judge Advocate General
in his website biography, but he was just a judge advocate, i.e., a military lawyer. He began his
career as a judge advocate in Vietnam, serving as a military judge in the special-court-martial
court, where he tried relative minor cases such as marijuana possession. On his return to the
states, he was an instructor at the Naval School in Newport, before becoming an Assistant U.S.
Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, supervising the prosecution of racketeers and
fraudsters. He went on to practice criminal law, serving as counsel and defense attorney for
some of the marijuana traffickers of the infamous Black Tuna Gang. He recently starred in a
nostalgic documentary about those heady days, ‘The Square Groupers—Godfathers of Ganja’
(2011).
When judges changed their minds about the civil rights of drug traffickers and convicting them
became a sort of slam-dunk, money for fees dried up, so Tifford took up defending white collar
criminals, stock scammers and the like. He did rather well for himself representing that sleazy
trade, in one case taking some unregistered stock as a fee and successfully battling for its
liquidation in the courts. He also settled a substantial personal injury case against Bob’s
Barricades before the jury came back with a huge award that made him look bad for settling for
the far smaller amount. Better one in hand than in the bush, he said, for one never knows what
might happen on appeal. Attorneys fear him for his dogged, dilatory tactics that can run them
ragged and cost their clients an arm and a leg. It is said that he makes so many misstatements and
misrepresentations in court that he has already crossed the finish line before someone can
document and complain about everyone of them, and when they do complain nobody would
believe them because of his heroic reputation beginning from the time when he said he took no
prisoners in Vietnam and was putting men in body bags.
The advantage to a troubled attorney like him in filing a Petition for Disciplinary Revocation of
his license under Florida Bar Rule 3-7.12 may be deduced from a reading of the Rule: “If a
disciplinary agency is investigating the conduct of a lawyer, or if such an agency has
recommended probable cause, then disciplinary proceedings shall be deemed to be pending and a
petition for disciplinary revocation may be filed pursuant to this rule.” That means that the
pending investigation may not proceed to a formal finding of probable cause, or, if it does, there
will be no Bar trial.
A bar file becomes public upon a finding of “probable cause.” Tifford’s case has not proceeded
that far, therefore it is a “pending investigation,” which will be dismissed if the Supreme Court
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accepts his Petition, and the original complaint and entire bar file will be destroyed after one year
hence be unavailable for public scrutiny. As long as it is pending and probable cause has yet to
be found, the complaint and the investigative file are confidential, therefore the Bar has refused
to supply us with the identity of the complainant, but would probably confirm the identity if it is
already known. That way, witnesses to misconduct will not be prompted by publicity of the
investigation into coming forward with evidence. Furthermore, patterns of misbehavior cannot
be ascertained in recent cases by way of reference to past inquiries and complaints since not only
have the older records been destroyed, but the record that there were any records as well. Since
the Florida Bar does not give regular public notice in mainstream media of dismissed
investigations and acquittals, the media and the general public that become interested in a
particular attorney’s record will usually make their inquiries too late to get the disciplinary file,
and find that the attorney has a clear record if he or she has not been disbarred.
Rule 3-7.12 requires the petitioner to make a statement disclosing “all past and pending
disciplinary actions and criminal proceedings against the petitioner. The statement shall describe
the charges made or those under investigation for professional misconduct, results of past
proceedings, and the status of pending investigations and proceedings.”
Again, an attorney may be keenly interested in avoiding public scrutiny of his behavior during an
investigation or before a bar trial after finding of probable cause, for the obvious reason that such
scrutiny might cause other victims and witnesses to come forward and make complaints or bear
witness. So a crafty dodger might be more laconic than usual in his Petition for Disciplinary
Revocation. Tifford, who is known for burying courthouses in reams of paper, was especially
taciturn this time.
Tifford’s confession itself is not a full confession, for a petitioner is not required to confess any
wrongdoing for which has not yet provoked a complaint. His statement was not given under
oath. He cannot be charged with perjury if he lied. He could be disciplined for lying to the court,
but that would be moot if he is disbarred. He might be jailed for contempt, which would please
his victims, but that is highly unlikely.
In fine, he stated that the current complaint against him involves allegations of trust fund
shortages. He avoids the confession of a serious crime by using the word “allegations.” And he
averred that he received a public reprimand for misconduct in 1989, and that he has no criminal
convictions.
Janet Joyce Vernell, Tifford’s former client turned formidable foe, was outraged by the Petition.
She presented us with a copy of her “Emergency Objections” filed with the court, wherein she
alleges she is a victim who would be adversely affected by the court’s acceptance of Tifford’s
Petition. Her cognizable interest in Tifford’s disbarment as one of his victims liable to suffer
further harm by the acceptance of his Petition presumably gives her some little standing in the
matter before the Florida Supreme Court. If Tifford were suspended from practicing law pending
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the completion of an exhaustive investigation, it might allow her and other victims to recover
some filched money.
The Florida Bar provides an insurance fund to compensate victims, and is charged with
protecting the public against wayward lawyers by diligently investigating them and publicizing
the results so as to maintain the integrity of profession and public confidence in same. She claims
she lost her $1.2 million home and considerable funds due to his misconduct, which she had
since long complained about to the Florida Bar, not to mention “severe life-altering damages and
suffering.”
Hell has no wrath like a woman who believes she has been befriended by her attorney only to be
cheated. Vernell pursued Tifford doggedly in the courts, but ultimately lost her cause on appeal,
she said, due to a technicality involving the number of pages in a brief.
“I filed my initial brief. Tifford answered after much delay, including a request to have it
stricken, which was denied, so he was forced to file an answer brief, which was about 30 pages
long and attached to over 1,000 pages of BS exhibits of proceedings before we had gotten to this
stage, all meaningless and typical of Tifford. Then I had to file a reply or rebuttal brief. You
cannot exceed 15 pages for that, and mine was 20 pages, so I asked simultaneously with my
filing if I could enlarge it to 20 pages or an extra 5 pages. My exhibits were only 50 pages. My
request was denied and my brief stricken.”
She also filed a complaint with the Florida Bar to no avail: On August 23, 2011, Bar Counsel
Shaneé L. Clark decided that the dispute was over fees and was therefore not a disciplinary issue.
Consumer advocates complain that the old fee dispute excuse is a common strategy disciplinary
agencies use to avoid disciplining lawyers throughout the nation.
On June 17 of this year, she was questioned in a deposition conducted by Tifford’s son-in-law,
Allen Libow, Esq., pertinent to his marital litigation with Tifford’s daughter, Melissa Libow.
Vernell recounted how she and her husband were approached and wooed for their fraudulent
mortgage suit against a bank, and then were duped and cheated by Tifford after he got friendly
with her. She said he wanted a $100,000 retainer but then went down to a zero just to get the
case, and then he allegedly ran up $186,000 in expenses but never supplied invoices to prove he
paid the amounts despite her demands that he do so. She said his negligence deprived her of a
jury trial that she certainly would have won; much to her surprise, her home was suddenly
seized.
During the deposition she spoke about her visit to Tifford’s fabulous hideaway house in Rhode
Island, and his relationship with a Rhode Island woman, whom she thought was a judge, while
his wife was on her deathbed. She said he related how he put 33 of his own men into body bags
in Vietnam, and the special things he did for the CIA. She was suitable impressed, and she
wondered if he want to make a pass at her. She testified during the deposition that Tifford grew
extremely hostile after he found out that she knew he was an ex-con: She had confronted him
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with the conviction although it was expunged from the record. She alleged that he told her he had
concealed the conviction from the New York Bar by lying on the forms.
When Libow asked her if she thought that Tifford would get angry enough to prosecute
somebody for seven years for broaching the fact of his conviction, she said, “I think he almost
has the propensity to win at all costs no matter what, whether it is money, whether it is to
aggravate you, whether it's to ruin your life.” She agreed with Libow’s leading questions, saying
not that Tifford was “evil,” but even worse, that he was “evil personified,” someone who would
“say and do anything he needs to get whatever he wants.” However, he was not 100% evil, just 8
on a scale of 1 to 10.
She said she believes the Court should deny Tifford’s Petition and require the Bar to actually
attend to the duty she feels it neglected, and make a full investigation into Tifford’s behavior and
accounts over the years to ascertain the damages done to every victim that may come forward.
She filed her Objections with the Court on July 23 at 9:23 am. The filing was termed an
“emergency” filing because Tifford had been careful to file his petition shortly before the Board
of Governors was to meet on July 23 to approve his Petition, which the Supreme Court would
surely grant according to sources at the Florida Bar.
The Objections assert that Tifford’s Petition “is replete with false and/or misleading assertions to
an extent that the Petition should be denied as being insufficient, false and/or otherwise without
merit.”
She states that Tifford was convicted of criminal fraud following a jury trial, and that he filed a
writ of habeas corpus which the State of Florida did not respond to in a timely manner therefore
he was released from custody, and that a “disdainful” statement was made by three justices, that
his release did not determine the facts of his case and his innocence of guilt, therefore the Florida
Bar was not precluded from disciplinary action against him. However, the Florida Bar apparently
took no such action, and handed him his license back.
As for the 1989 reprimand, she says, “Insofar as Petitioner's ‘slap on the wrist’ public reprimand
is concerned, it is noted that the same encompassed Petitioner's issuance of 71 checks returned as
worthless by reason of "insufficient funds" ranging from $1.00 to the felonious sum of
$9,838.54. Notwithstanding, and despite his recent and ongoing boasts on his web site that he is
‘a Super Lawyer with over seven hundred and twenty-eight million dollars ($728,000,000) in
judgments to his credit,’ public records reveal that ‘Arthur Tifford has been repeatedly sued (24
times) by creditors, other attorneys and court reporting agencies for non-payment of his
obligations (with) more than twenty seven (27) Federal tax liens filed against him."
She further states that Florida resident David R. Johnson had sought the assistance of the New
York Bar in censuring Petitioner re his New York State license for his ongoing ethical violations;
to wit, in Johnson’s words:
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"In August, October and November of 2004, I (sic, Johnson) filed three (3) absolutely truthful,
absolutely privileged and unpublished complaints with the Florida Bar regarding the unethical
conduct of Arthur Tifford's son-in-law, attorney Allen Libow. Please note that the one and only
signature that appeared on all three (3) of those Bar complaints was mine alone. Immediately
after receiving the first of those three (3) Bar complaints, I was notified by Allen Libow and
Arthur Tifford that absent the payment to them of ‘nothing less than $100,000’ that they were
going to sue both me and my wife for defamation. When I refused to succumb to the extortionate
demands of those attorneys they did in fact carry through with their nefarious threat to sue us.
Arthur Tifford was the chief extortionist and prosecutor of his daughters and son -in-law's
contrived claims of defamation. By this time it cost my wife and I more than a half a million
dollars to successfully defend ourselves against the malicious contrivances and attempted
extortion of these two maliciously unethical attorneys.”
Johnson alleged elsewhere that a review of court records of suits brought by Libow indicated the
possibility that many other Libow clients may have been pressed by threat of expensive litigation
to settle fee claims far in excess of amounts due, and sued with Tifford’s help if they resisted.
Johnson fought back and won in court although he stopped short of the mastermind, whom
Vernell agreed was the “personification of evil,” perhaps because Johnson’s attorney, Steven J.
Rothman of Jones, Foster, Johnston and Stubbs, who was courageous enough to take the case on
contingency, was afraid of Tifford. A malicious prosecution case against attorneys is difficult to
win in the first place, and going after the attorneys’ attorney on the basis that he is at fault is
likely to be a losing proposition. Tifford even filed an appeal in Johnson v Libow arguing that
attorneys have an absolute right to abuse litigants. Rothman would have had good cause to fear
going after Tifford in the case after looking at the avalanche of paper and convoluted motions
and appeals generated in the underlying cases where Tifford represented Libow.
It was evidently a matter of honor in the Southern feudal tradition for Johnson: it was the
principle of the thing that counted and not the cost. The fatal mistake the shakedown artists made
was going after his wife for something she did not do. Only Johnson can say if the vindication
was worth the aggravation and fortune it cost him. He declined to discuss the disposition of his
suit against Libow.
Allen Libow apparently has an axe to grind with Tifford. It appears from the Vernell transcript
that he may fault his father-in-law for his fall from grace, as if he were his victim too. His
question therein about pursuing someone for seven years for some slight may indirectly refer to
the suit against the Johnsons. Perhaps a cross claim against his own attorney was precluded by
the rules. However, he declined to comment for this article.
Now the relevant rule for the disciplinary revocation of Tifford’s license provides that, “The
Supreme Court of Florida may enter judgment granting disciplinary revocation if it has been
shown by the petitioner in a proper and competent manner that the public interest will not be
adversely affected by the granting of the petition and that such will neither adversely affect the
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integrity of the courts nor hinder the administration of justice nor the confidence of the public in
the legal profession; if otherwise, the petition shall be denied.”
The Florida Bar is an integrated bar, meaning that it is part and parcel of the Supreme Court of
Florida. To allow a miscreant to bow out without a full investigation of his or her misconduct
would cause the bar to fall into further disrepute than it has since some of its most respected and
trusted members were arrested and the past few years, would reflect badly on the supreme bench
that oversees its disciplinary arm, and would keep members of the noble profession in the dark
about their colleagues and the professional association to which they must belong to practice law
in the state.
“I do not foresee the Board not approving his Petition,” Marvin responded when we mentioned
that parties may have unresolved issues that the Bar should look into before approving of a
Disciplinary Revocation.
“We sometimes do encounter resentment from complainants who are upset when we dismiss
pending cases after the lawyer is disbarred for some other case(s), and I understand their
sentiment. The purpose of lawyer discipline is not to satisfy an unsatisfied client but to protect
future clients from being harmed. A wronged former client has the civil court system to pursue
their claims and vendettas. A third party has no standing to become involved in a discipline case.
That is, a cognizable interest in the case.”
The Bar evidently wants to wash its hands of Arthur W. Tifford once and for all, and this way of
proceeding is the most convenient realization of its disciplinary goal without further ado. If law
enforcement authorities want to crucify him for any crimes, the Bar stands ready to provide
information, but it may be unable to provide any information at all if the file is destroyed as a
dismissed pending investigation because the court granted the Petition.
We shall see if Vernell’s effort to be recognized as having a cognizable interest will bear fruit.
Perhaps her Objections filed in the Supreme Court of Florida will serve only to virtually hang
Tifford in effigy on the public record, so to speak. When contacted at home and asked if she
would like to see him hung in effigy in front of the courthouse, she said would like to see him
hung in a town square somewhere in New England. The same question was put to David
Johnson, who said he would like to see him hung by his privates behind the courthouse.
##

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THE JUDICIAL SWAMP OF IMPRACTICAL OBSCURITY
Chief Judge of Palm Beach Circuit declines online access to case of significant public interest

February 2, 2012
Editorial by David Arthur Walters
MIAMI BEACH—David Johnson v. Allen H. Libow, a case filed in the Palm Beach Circuit
Court, is certainly a case of significant public interest to the nation because it purportedly
exposes one of the worst examples of the abusive and malicious practice of law tolerated by a
court system that claims the sole and inherent power to discipline itself. It is definitely a case the
public should scrutinize to see if the allegations of the plaintiff have merit.
Yet what could be one of the most egregious cases of unethical conduct by lawyers and gross
negligence of the Florida Bar in failing to discipline them will barely see the light of day in order
for the consuming public to decide for itself whether the allegations are true or false. Apparently
the lawyers in question are untouchables. The mainstream press, the much vaunted fourth branch
of government, is loath to alienate the profession that has a virtual stranglehold on every walk of
life therefore it ignores the potentially scandalous case. Most importantly, Florida’s judicial
system is deliberately antiquated in respect to the absence of complete open Internet access to its
so-called public records.

~ 1 ~ 

 

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One of the principles that distinguish our English law as it is rooted in Germanic custom is the
ancient Rule of Publicity. The Anglo-Saxon court was held in the open air and could be attended
by anyone who wanted to witness the battles, overseen by the wisest men in the neighborhood
who could be mustered for the decision. Even the inquisitive courts of the executive power, such
as the King’s Council sitting in the Starry Chamber, forsook secrecy and competed with the
common law courts for popular favor. Indeed, before the Star Chamber became notorious for its
malicious prosecutions and arbitrary processes, it was popular among the people because it
protected them from the abuses of nobility, circumvented the unwieldy and obtuse legal system,
and, most importantly, chastened lawyers who had managed to place the interest of their
profession above the common good.
Today the numbers interested in the legal contests cannot fit into a brick-and-mortar courtroom,
but technology permits millions to have immediate access. If we had that access, we could
discover whether or not there is wisdom in crowds, as democracy maintains. We may not count
on the collective wisdom, but we can count on the fact that there are among us lay people who
have enough wits about them to understand from online public access to judicial records
including records of the court’s disciplinary arm that influential attorneys have placed
themselves above the law and evaded justice for many years with the help of judges and an
integrated bar that does not publish acquittals and destroys files a year later to cover up what
may be its own misconduct, negligence, and ignorance. The little guy gets disbarred for stealing
client funds while the untouchables who resort to massive legalized theft become the most
influential and trusted attorneys in the state, until they get too greedy, step over the line and are
arrested by the F.B.I.
If only the public could keep an eye on the unfaithful or miscreants, now that God is dead, the
damage they do to society could be mitigated by the crowd’s all-seeing eyes. Of course lawyers
are not the only culprits to be recognized and exposed by public observation. The greater the
number of people watching, the greater the justice that may be done as some of them come
forward with evidence for or against the litigants.
With the glorious exception of the Manatee County Circuit Court, which has just brought its case
records including document images online, cases in the circuit courts of Florida are obscured by
the Florida Supreme Court’s blanket moratorium on open access by the public, although an
electronic filing system has been installed for attorneys in many of the circuits. The reason given
for the snail’s pace to online public access, for which there is no deadline, is the need for
privacy, although a recent judicial administrative order already mandates that the lawyers and
pro se litigants must not include in their filings certain private information exempted by the
public records law.
In the good old days, something called “practical obscurity” allowed the courts to keep the
identities of the actors and their behavior in court relatively secret. Only the most thoroughgoing
investigator could determine exactly what records the court had and what was really going on in
a case. If someone was keenly interested in a case, they might have to travel a great distance at
considerable expense to attend hearings and trials and pore over all sorts of documents to get an
understanding of a case. It was assumed that records would only be used for proper purposes
given that practical obscurity. Reporters from the established press, the press with adequate
resources, had to establish a cooperative relationship with the clerks or else their access would be
~ 2 ~ 

 

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impeded. They decided what cases to report on. In other words, the established press
manufactured the news.
The practical obscurity was also impractical. The grinding old system was expected to change in
a revolutionary manner with the advance of the Internet. It has indeed changed at the federal
level, where dockets and documents can be accessed via a system called PACER. Many county
courts in Florida provide online access, but not the circuit courts where civil cases must exceed
$15,000. Again, the pioneering Manatee County Circuit Court is the exception.
However, an administrative order of the Florida Supreme Court allows the chief judge of a
jurisdiction to make non-confidential records in a case of significant public interest electronically
available. 1 Therefore I asked Chief Judge Peter D. Blanc to make the Johnson v. Libow case
available on the basis of its public significance. 2 My plea stated that “Johnson v. Libow is of
significant public interest inasmuch as its subject matter appertains to the ability of officers of
the court to pervert judicial process to intimidate, silence, and punish members of the public who
file complaints against them with The Florida Bar. And the case is significant because it
appertains to the Bar's failure to restrain all attorneys from doing so, despite the Bar's opinion, in
one case of selective enforcement, that such conduct is unethical inasmuch as its interferes with
the administration of justice.”
Amy S. Borman, General Counsel to the 15th Judicial Circuit, responded on his behalf: “I spoke
with the Chief Judge, and, as a policy, he does not designate specific cases for the Clerk &
Comptroller to make available electronically. Circuit civil case files are available for inspection
and review at the Clerk & Comptroller’s office in West Palm Beach.”
I responded to Ms. Borman’s letter with a request for the judge’s reasoning: “Now the law is
mysterious to those of us who do not practice it, and we are often troubled by judicial decisions
when they are not explained. I pray that you will, with my apologies for the interruption, ask the
honorable judge to give his reason for his general policy and for his unwillingness to make an
exception in this remarkable case. And whatever you might say that will serve to educate the
public on the matter will also be naturally appreciated.” 3
Judge Blanc kindly responded on September 28, 2011:
Dear Mr. Walters:
Amy Borman has advised me that you are seeking a better understanding of my
reasons for denying your request that I issue an administrative order making all
docket filings electronically accessible to the public free of charge in the case of
David Johnson v. Allen H. Libow, Case No: 502011CA001121XXXXMB.
You have asked that I take this action based upon your belief that this case is “of
significant public interest”. Many cases that come through our court system are
of significant public interest and the courts and court filings are open to public
scrutiny. However, I have never previously taken the action that you are
requesting in relation to a particular case and choose not to do so now. I believe
there is an inherent conflict between the courts remaining impartial and the courts
~ 3 ~ 

 

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rating in advance the relative importance to the public of the cases that come
before it. It is not appropriate for the court to determine that any one case is
worthy of more public scrutiny than another. Although there is an appellate
process for trial judges to certify cases of great public importance, those are done
primarily in situations where the case raises a conflict in the application of
existing laws.
The decision that a case is of significant public interest should be made by the
public and/or the media, not by the court. It is important to note that the records
you seek are all available for review at no charge to you and to all members of the
public through the clerk’s office.
Sincerely,
Peter D. Blanc, Chief Judge
Judge Blanc has left us where we started, with the vestiges of practical obscurity. Members of
the public can get in their cars or fly to Palm Beach, where they can inspect the records at the
courthouse. And they will have a considerable hotel expense given the fact that they will have, in
this case and the underlying case it is brought upon for malicious prosecution and an abuse of
process that includes dilatory tactics and obfuscation of the issue by clogging the court with
massive filings, over 32,000 pages of documents to digest and take notes on. Of course the clerk
will be glad to send images of the documents to a member of the public at a rate of $1 per page,
so that would run $32,000. 4
The established press might be reluctant to spare a journalist for a few weeks to research the case
and fully comprehend the issues involved, even if it were willing to take on Florida’s integrated
bar. The professional bar is “integrated” with the Florida Supreme Court, meaning that the same
public branch that licenses and disciplines the profession also represents its political-economic
interests. That is an integrated conflict of interest: the fox is guarding the henhouse. Great
Britain, the mother country of our English law, has in its infinite wisdom disintegrated its bar,
severing the responsibility for disciplining solicitors and barristers from the judiciary function
and placing it in the executive under the purview of non-lawyers with legal assistance. Even if an
American publisher or editor wanted to expose the constitutional corruption of the Florida Bar
and its consequences in particularly egregious cases, they would be reluctant to do so. Although
the situation is outrageous when understood, the issues are complex and would require an
extraordinary attention span from an audience that already “knows that lawyers are liars and
crooks”—which is of course untrue.
On the other hand, if the documents in this case and the underlying case were online, several
thousand heads would prove far better than one. Moreover, dozens who have had experience
with the lawyers involved might be glad to come forward to relate their experience with good
effect.
We might ask, “If a judge will allow a proceeding to be televised nationwide, wherein a mother
is accused of murdering her baby, and she accuses her father of incest and covering up the cause
of the baby’s death, why will not Judge Blanc allow online access to the Johnson v. Libow case?
~ 4 ~ 

 

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

Because it is not about what publishers believe the people are actually interested in, child-murder
and incest?”
I am a member of the traditional press referred to in the Constitution, a one-man press or
pamphleteer, and I say Johnson v. Libow is a case that should be of significant public interest
and would be if the case were fully aired. Wherefore Judge Blanc, given that reasoning, should
have opened up the process for online scrutiny.
But to be fair to Judge Blanc, and reading between the lines, I believe he may have washed his
hands of this case because to vary from his general policy and to determine that it alone was
worthy of significant public attention might imply a partiality prejudicial to justice being served
in his circuit.
Obviously, Judge Blanc and his chief clerk should make open online access to all nonconfidential court records their priority. That the Palm Beach court system is strapped for funds
is no excuse. The savings of going paperless is a proven fact. In any case, justice would be better
served by lifting her out of the swamp of impractical obscurity.
##

NOTES
 
                                                            

1

No. AOSC07-49 INRE: REVISED INTERIM POLICY ON ELECTRONIC RELEASE OF
COURT RECORDS: ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER…. This administrative order revises and
supersedes the interim policy contained in Administrative Order AOSC06-21. After consultation
with the Court, the revisions to the interim policy recommended by the Access Committee are
approved. The revised interim policy continues to allow extensive docket information, as well as
all final orders and judgments of the courts, to be made available electronically, such as on a
publicly accessible internet website, as long as no confidential information is released. In
addition, as originally provided, a chief judge of a jurisdiction can direct that all non-confidential
records in a case of significant public interest may be made available electronically. To facilitate
orderly access to records affecting real property, the revised interim policy continues to allow
certain records affecting real property to be released. Further, any non-confidential Florida court
record can be provided electronically in response to a request, provided the record has been
manually inspected by the clerk of the court in order to ensure that no confidential information is
released. DONE AND ORDERED at Tallahassee, Florida, on September 7, 2007.
 
~ 5 ~ 

 

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                

2

  

July 23, 2011 
Honorable Peter D. Blanc, Chief Judge
PALM BEACH COUNTY COURT SYSTEM
c/o Sharon R. Bock,
Clerk & Comptroller
or Stephanie Lee
Judicial Assistant
RE: Case: 502011CA001121XXXXMB DAVID JOHNSON V ALLEN H LIBOW
Your Honor:
I respectfully request the court to issue an administrative order to make all the filings on the
docket in the above-captioned case electronically accessible to the public free of charge.
Johnson v. Libow is of significant public interest inasmuch as its subject matter appertains to the
ability of officers of the court to pervert judicial process to intimidate, silence, and punish
members of the public who file complaints against them with The Florida Bar. And the case is
significant because it appertains to the Bar's failure to restrain all attorneys from doing so,
despite the Bar's opinion, in one case of selective enforcement, that such conduct is unethical
inasmuch as its interferes with the administration of justice.
Broad public access to court records is increasingly limited to the minute portion of the public
that have the means to visit the courthouse, Most often that would be members of the so-called
legitimate press.
I have called attention to this important case to mainstream newspaper reporters in Florida,
including but not limited to reporters with the Miami Herald and the South Florida Business
Journal.
My effort to elicit "legitimate" coverage in this case has been in vain. Mainstream media
reporters have informed me that, since this subject may very well involve criticism of The
Florida Bar therefore the Florida Supreme Court of which the Bar is part and parcel, and since
the Bar itself is notorious for its past prejudice in favor of influential attorneys, coverage would
alienate a major source of "legitimate" news and would furthermore be a waste of time inasmuch
as the court has "inherent powers" over lawyers that cannot be influenced by the press or public
opinion not to mention the legislative and executive branches.
As for the judicial opinions the organized media does cover, I have often found its reports
misleading and sometimes plainly wrong in fact and law, when I did manage to recover a copy of
the judicial action reported on.

~ 6 ~ 

 

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                

Additionally, I have not always been able to get a complete case file in some cases because of
costs, particularly where attorneys are involved whose practice is to file hundreds of pages at a
time in hopes of bewildering the court and running up litigation costs.
I have done my best, as a member of the traditional Press, that being a "press of one" or
"pamphleteer" sometimes critical of the judiciary, i.e. the "Press" for which the Constitutional
Amendment was drafted, to cover this particular case, but at present can say nothing about it
because the records are not available and the parties are silent due to pending litigation and my
lack of status as a "legitimate" reporter.
It is with all that in mind that I reiterate my prayer for an order providing that the filings in this
case - at least the pleadings themselves - be made electronically available to the general public
free of charge.
Yours truly,
David Arthur Walters
aka "The Miami Mirror"
cc:
Kenneth Marvin
Director of Lawyer Regulation
THE FLORIDA BAR
 
3

  

Amy S. Borman
General Counsel
15th Judicial Circuit
205 North Dixie Highway
5th Floor
West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
Re: Electronic Availability of Judicial Records
Dear Ms. Borman:
Thank for your email of 24 August 2011.
I deeply appreciate that fact that you spoke to Chief Judge Blanc in response to my request to
make a particular case of extraordinary public importance electronically available to the public.
Of course the public will never know how important this case is unless it is aired by the
mainstream press, which that so-called legitimate press is not wont to do inasmuch as the
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judiciary is a primary source of the news that it filters for public consumption with its own
corporate interests in mind, and the immediate and widespread revelation of the unclad subject
matter in the instant pleadings may cause the public to hold the Florida Bar and the institution
into which it is integrated in some contempt, from which the publishers may fear some
retribution. In fine, this case may prove embarrassing to the legal profession and especially to its
ruling elite. It is all about shutting people up who would complain about the misbehavior of
lawyers.
I am naturally disappointed that Chief Blanc, as a matter of general policy, declined to make the
case filings electronically available without providing his reasoning for that policy, especially
since electronic records are court records subject to public access law, and the Florida
Constitution may be applicable to a request for same.
Please correct me if I am mistaken here, but the privacy-versus-publicity controversy in respect
to electronic access to case files was taken up for eventual settlement by the Florida Supreme
Court. I recall that a moratorium on electronic access to records was declared, but with the
proviso that the chief judge of a court could make records of public importance electronically
available after the clerical staff redacted confidential information. And most lately I believe an
order was laid down that placed the responsibility on officers of the court to make sure no
pleadings were filed that reveals information confidential by law. Finally, I thought there was a
deadline set after which all electronic records were to be made available, but to the best of my
knowledge, and I suppose you would know the fact of the matter, the deadline has passed,
leaving me to think, perhaps mistakenly, that the limbo period persists, so that the chief judge of
each court has discretion, which Chief Judge Blanc now exercises in the negative as we watch
trials telecast at no charge to millions of viewers.
I am aware of public statements by the Florida Supreme Court extolling the Court’s willingness
to bend over backwards to provide public access to records, and it seems to me that such
graciousness might extend to the voluntary conduct of lower court judges.
I suppose you know, but I do not know, what the legal extent of Judge Blanc’s discretion might
be when the benefits of making the case records immediately available to the public worldwide
far outweigh the cost of embarrassing a few people who hold some sway over the lives of
countless individuals; particularly, in this case, when it comes to their right to petition the Florida
Bar and other governmental agencies for redress of their grievances against lawyers without
being punished for doing so.
Now the law is mysterious to those of us who do not practice it, and we are often troubled by
judicial decisions when they are not explained. I pray that you will, with my apologies for the
interruption, ask the honorable judge to give his reason for his general policy and for his
unwillingness to make an exception in this remarkable case. And whatever you might say that
will serve to educate the public on the matter will also be naturally appreciated.
Sincerely,
David Arthur Walters
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4

  

August 31, 2011 
Subject: PRR - Response to PRR from The Justice Network (Gillespie) re: Johnson v. Libow,
dated 08.29.11 
Mr. Gillespie:
Please note that case dockets are available for public viewing on-line on our website at Court
Records. The Supreme Court currently has a moratorium that prohibits clerks from posting
images of pleadings on the internet. If you want copies of the actual pleadings, there are two
options:
1. We can provide you with the cost and make arrangements for payment by credit card and
transmit a pdf document via email or,
2. We can provide you with the cost, and once we have received your payment and a stamped,
self-addressed envelope, we will mail the pleadings to you, or you can pick them up.
The cost of obtaining a copy of court records is set by Florida Statute and is listed in our General
Fees. The cost for copying court records is $1.00/page. The Complaint is 10 pages @
$1.00/page, making the total amount due $10.00. If paying by check, please make your check
payable to: Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County, and if mailing, please send to: Denise
Coffman, Legal Counsel, Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County, Post Office Box 229, West
Palm Beach, FL 33402.
Upon receipt of payment, we will forward the documents to you. If
you are paying by credit card, please contact our office to make the necessary arrangements.
Thank you.
Nancy Jill Ardell
Legal Secretary
[email protected]
Constitutional Clerk & Comptroller
Serving the Citizens of Palm Beach County
301 N. Olive Ave.|
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
 

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FROM ‘THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON’
by David Arthur Walters

THE CAPE FEAR SYNDROME

Movie set for Cape Fear storm

The Libows and Johnsons were subject to the Cape Fear Syndrome, an undesirable psychological
complex that sometimes grips lawyers and their estranged clients. They have seen the first movie
by that name and know what happens to a vindictive man self-trained in the law who files a
complaint against a lawyer with the state bar for concealing evidence, and then goes after the
lawyer’s family. The jailhouse lawyer is bound to lose at the end of the perverse process. A
licensed lawyer may become so incensed by the resistance of his unlicensed opponent that he
projects his own disposition onto him and imagines that his pro se combatant is the rapist Max
Cady set out to kill his wife and kids; wherefore he wishes him dead; he will do everything in his
power as a licensed lawyer to bury the man for good, even if that means perverting the judicial
process.
Woe unto clients like David Johnson if they durst complain to the Florida Bar about the
misconduct of attorneys like Allen Libow, for vengeance is mine, sayeth those lords of the law.
Of course the Florida Bar’s website and Bar counselors advise the public that a lawyer may not
successfully sue a complainant who files his petition for redress of grievances against attorneys
with the Florida Bar and does not publish it elsewhere. Kenneth Marvin, Director of Lawyer
Regulation, will cite a leading Florida case to that effect, Tobkin v. Jarboe, 710 So.2d 975 (Fla.
1998), and send a copy of it to the inquirer. But that does not restrain lawyers from actually
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perverting the judicial process to maliciously prosecute a complainant for defamation, forcing
him to either shut up or put his money where his mouth is, or both. David Johnson simply would
not shut up, and he has paid dearly for it in money and emotional distress.
To begin with, Mr. Johnson was convinced that a rogue lawyer was trying to shake him down for
$100,000 over a $1,621 fee dispute. Although Mr. Libow is also a CPA, his law firm was not
very good at mathematics: Mr. Johnson was dunned for $5,014 after he had already shelled out
about $9,000 to handle his suit against Michelin Many. When he demanded an accounting, he
was credited $1,750 because he had been billed for an attorney’s appearance that had not been
made, resulting in a default judgment against him, although the expenses associated with error
and recovering from it were, he said, nearly $3,000. A further adjustment reduced the amount
due to $2,086. At one time Mr. Libow magnanimously said Mr. Johnson owed the firm nothing.
However, Mr. Libow changed his mind when Mr. Johnson would not leave his business with the
firm after Cynthia Becker, the associate handling the case, left his employ. Mr. Libow insisted
that $1,621 was due, plus a $398 fee for itemizing the bill, a surcharge he subsequently deducted
because, he said, it was only made for illustrative purposes and not to violate Bar’s accounting
rules. And he demanded $100,000 from Mr. Johnson, or else all legal hell would break loose.
But Mr. Johnson was about not to be shorn by an attorney’s greed and ill will; he would lay out a
quarter-million dollars to defend himself and his family.
On August 6, 2004, just two days after Mr. Libow filed the charging suit for the $1,621, he or his
wife filed an allegedly baseless police report against Mr. Johnson, claiming that he and his
family were being threatened with physical violence because they were Jewish.
On August 16, 2004, Mr. Johnson, who had decided to represent himself in the small claims
court, filed a letter of complaint with The Florida Bar, stating that Mr. Libow had called him in
an effort to persuade him to leave his case with Libow and Muskat LLP instead of letting Ms.
Becker take the case with her. The following are excerpts from the public record:
“Up to that point I had never had any interaction or communication whatsoever
with anyone at Libow & Muskat other than Ms. Becker. The phone call from Mr.
Libow turned out to be a concentrated effort by him to talk me out of allowing
Ms. Becker to represent me. Initially, Mr. Libow limited his sales pitch to
expounding on the virtues of “his firm’s” legal expertise and resources. It soon
digressed into defamatory remarks about the integrity and competence of Ms.
Becker, whom he claimed was working out of a suitcase. His derogatory remarks
about a fellow attorney caught me off guard….
“Please keep in mind that I had an important hearing that was scheduled just days
away. According to invoices received from Libow & Muskat, most of the
additional fees were for “legal research” done by Ms. Becker in preparation for
the impending hearing. This hearing was originally scheduled for February. I was
originally told that the hearing had to be rescheduled because of some faux pas by
opposing counsel. Mr. Libow was eager to tell me that the hearing had actually
been rescheduled because Ms. Becker had failed to file the proper documentation
with the court in a timely manner.
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“Mr. Libow spent the better part of half an hour trying to convince me to let his
firm represent me. His sales pitch consisted primarily of disparaging remarks
about Ms. Becker’s competency and integrity. When I mentioned the excessive
fees, he told me that Ms. Becker had a bad a habit of “over billing her clients for
legal research”. He told me that I was only one of many clients of Ms. Becker that
had complained about excessive fees. He went on to tell me that because of that,
he was forced to make “adjustments” to the bills of some clients. I was told that in
one case that the “adjustment” was nearly $11,000. During our conversation, Mr.
Libow repeatedly offered to “wipe the slate clean”, saying that I wouldn’t “owe
him a dime”. The more I resisted letting Mr. Libow represent me, the more
defamatory his remarks with regard to Ms. Becker became.
“He told me of how ungrateful she was, as he had made a lot of effort to
accommodate her “special needs”. (Ms. Becker uses a wheelchair.) He told me
she was, “fired from her last job for incompetence”, and, that if I had any hope of
prevailing in my litigation then I would let him and “his firm” represent me. The
insults poured out of this man like rain. It didn’t take me long to develop a strong
dislike for Mr. Libow. I politely terminated the phone call from Mr. Libow with a
promise to call him back after speaking with my wife about the developments. His
parting comment was, ‘Remember, you won’t owe me a thing, we will start with a
clean slate’.
“My wife and I were devastated by these developments. We had all this time,
money, aggravation and emotion tied up in this litigation and through no fault of
our own here we were in the middle of a war between two attorneys. I waited
more than an hour before calling Ms. Becker. I needed the time to gain my
composure and get in the frame of mind to decide how I was going to handle this
situation.
“My wife and I decided that, at this time, it would serve no purpose to inform Ms.
Becker of all the venomous comments of her old boss. We needed Ms. Becker to
represent our interests at this upcoming hearing and we didn’t want to say or do
anything that might detract her from that task.
“When I finally phoned Ms. Becker I did tell her that we had been contacted by
Mr. Libow. Without going into very much detail I told her that her old boss was
not very happy about her sudden departure. I also told her of some of his
comments and of his offer to “wipe the slate clean”. She told me that Mr. Libow
had phoned her as well and that the phone call had ended up in a screaming
match. We talked about many issues including the upcoming hearing. Ms. Becker
was very confident of our position and the probabilities of prevailing. As such, we
told her to e-mail us her Retainer Agreement and the Consent To Substitution Of
Counsel. She did, we signed them both and faxed them back to her.
“As promised, I phoned Mr. Libow back to advise him of our decision. To say the
least, he was not happy. It was more of the same. I had had just about as much of
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Mr. Libow and his venom as I could stand. I told him so, and hung up the phone.
Mr. Libow’s quest for revenge began almost immediately. He refused to sign the
consent form for substitution of counsel. In an effort to glean more fees and drive
up my expenses he set what would ordinarily be a routine matter for docket and
hearing before the court.”
Mr. Libow would sue Mr. Johnson for including such grievances as follows in his complaint to
the Bar, although far worse has been said about attorneys at large:
“You will notice that Mr. Libow seeks to charge me $397.57 for efforts that his
associate(s) allegedly made to comply with my lawful request for substantiation
of their claim. According to the revised bill it took his associate(s) 1.80 hours at
$200 an hour to mail me a 13-page computer generated document. You will also
notice that the alleged work was done on 6/29 and 6/30, a full week before my
request of 7/7/2004.
“As you know, State and Federal law mandates that Mr. Libow is statutorily
obligated to invoice his clients without benefit of remuneration. Mr. Libow also
knows that Jessie James used a horse and a six-gun to carry out his robberies. Mr.
Libow uses a computer and the United States Mail to carry out his. I have since
been told by Ms. Becker that what happened to me was not unique, but was in fact
standard practice with regard to what Mr. Libow considered to be his ‘less
sophisticated clients’.
Mr. Johnson was obviously deeply affronted by the lawyer’s “venomous” bites, to which he
reacted contumaciously, pleading in vain with the Bar to apply an antidote:
“Mr. Libow persisted with his demands and a torrent of e-mails went back and
forth between us. My impression of Mr. Libow was that he was a spoiled brat that
was accustomed to getting his way. He had no regard for whom he hurt, whom he
slandered or whom he stole from. Mr. Libow was the center of his own universe
and everything revolved around him. It was becoming equally apparent that there
was no depth to which this man would not stoop to gain some advantage. At one
point Mr. Libow accused me of being anti-Semitic (Exhibit F). In another, he
accused Ms. Becker of among other things, civil theft (Exhibit G).
“The only thing I ever threatened Mr. Libow with was legal action if he did not go
away and leave us alone. I never once threatened to do anything unlawful or
physical to Mr. Libow or anyone else. At this point all communication between us
had been via e-mail, so, this is an easily verifiable fact. However, that fact would
not prevent Mr. Libow from contacting the Boca Raton Police Department and
the Jacksonville Police Department, concocting a story and filing a false police
report. He claimed that I had made physical threats against him and that he and
his family were in eminent danger of physical violence from me (Exhibit G “1”).

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“This attorney, made a calculated effort to gain some advantage in this civil
controversy and at the same time avoid his ethical obligations as dictated by (DR7-105 rules; 4-3.1, 4-4.4, 4-8.4 (c) and 4-8.4(d)). Apparently this pathetic excuse
for a man went home and convinced his wife that she and her children were in
eminent physical danger from me. This obviously had the desired effect on Ms.
Libow and a police report claiming imminent physical violence was filed against
me with the authorities.
“This incident speaks volumes as to the character and total absence of ethics in
Mr. Libow. Now one of two things has happened. Either this man had no
compunction whatsoever about frightening his wife and children in a calculated
attempt to gain some advantage in this controversy, or his wife is his coconspirator. I don’t believe the latter to be the case. I suspect that it is possible if
not probable that Mr. Libow modified (forged) some of the e-mails in order to
accomplish the desired effect on his wife. Also, I am told that his wife is on the
verge of divorcing him for other transgressions; perhaps this is why he had no
compunction about scaring her and involving her in this controversy.
“An example of Mr. Libow’s propensity for and expertise at twisting the truth to
suit his psychotic agenda can be found on exhibit “G”. After convincing his wife
to file a (false) police report on me, he says, “I too will be forced to provide an
information statement concerning your physical threats of “taking me task” etc”.
Well, on the third from last paragraph of exhibit “D” you will find the quote that
he refers to. In total it says that I will, “seek every lawful remedy available to me
under every relevant authority to take you to task for your transgressions.”
“Now, you have to be a pretty creative, twisted, lying son of a bitch to convince
your soon to be ex- wife to report that to the police as a “physical threat”. This
man deserves to be disbarred. He is a pathological liar. He is intellectually and
emotionally unfit for his position of trust in the community. And he is a disgrace
to his profession.
“I have just learned that on August 4, 2004 Mr. Libow sued my wife and I in
Palm Beach County Court. He could have simply filed his threatened charging
lien. But no, that wouldn’t allow him to inflate the costs and expenses would it?
“Mr. Libow has wrought untold damage on my wife and I. The litigation that we
are so heavily invested in is falling apart, thanks in very large part to Mr. Libow.
Something needs to be done to protect the public from the likes of Mr. Libow and
his band of thieves. I believe that’s your job. Sincerely….”
On August 30, 2004, Mr. Johnson complained to the Florida Bar that Mr. Libow was trying to
extort $100,000 from him, and that the police report had been an attempt to coerce him into
paying. On October 11, 2004, Mr. Libow tendered a “Proposal for Settlement” for $100,000: “As
a proposal for settlement, my wife and I will walk away for $100,000. Anything short of that,
and we will fully prosecute our case.”

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Again, the amount finally disputed in small claims court was only $1,621. Mr. Libow and his
bevy of attorneys, particularly his father-in-law Arthur W. Tifford, the mastermind of the
ensuing defamation-suit strategy, evidently had something else in mind; to wit, putting Mr.
Johnson’s ass in the sling over his complaint to the Florida Bar.
On January 31, 2005, in an email to Mr. Johnson and several lawyers, Mr. Libow likened Mr.
Johnson to the murderer of his babysitter and her two daughters: “Our babysitter and her two
daughters were murdered late Saturday, early Sunday in their home. The culprit is a man, who
was our babysitter's husband. His actions are very similar to those taken by Mr. David Johnson
against me and my family….”
On February 10, 2005, Mr. Johnson, who was so alarmed by the email that he began sleeping
with a loaded gun beside his bed, addressed the Florida Bar: “In the twisted, delusional logic of
Allen Libow he is able to make the comparative leap that the filing of a Bar Complaint and a
Counter Claim in Small Claims Court is the legal and ethical equivalent of a TRIPLE
HOMICIDE. Now anyone that can make that comparative leap is certainly capable of making
the leap that his antagonist deserves to die and for him to kill the antagonist is nothing more than
the legal and ethical equivalent of filing a small claims action and a Bar complaint. This is your
licensee. His behavior, conduct and logic are not at all typical or indicative of a rational
individual, especially not one licensed by the Florida Bar to practice law. There is something
seriously wrong here with the reality and cognitive perceptions of this attorney.”
The Florida Bar did nothing for months, and then took umbrage at Mr. Johnson’s “tone” when he
asked staff to get of their bureaucratic assess – his complaint was dismissed that day but Mr.
Johnson kept on complaining.
“Upon reading this diatribe from Libow,” Mr. Johnson later reflected, “it occurred to me that if
his psychotic pendulum was to swing the other way, the cold blooded murder of my wife and I
could be considered by Libow to be an equivalent response to the filing of that Bar complaint.
That night, and for the first time in sixty years, we slept with a loaded gun in the house and it
was right by our bed.”
Mr. Johnson had no doubt that Mr. Libow was, to say the least, emotionally disturbed. A rumor
was bandied about by alienated lawyers that he inhaled pot to relieve his anxiety. Medicinal
marijuana treatment of psychopathological syndromes can make the cure worse than the disease.
When deposed on Dec, 4, 2006, he said nothing of marijuana but he did testify that he had been
under a certain psychiatrist’s care for five years, and that he was taking the prescription drug
Xanax for anxiety and insomnia, and Effexor for anxiety. He said he had taken Xanax when
reading Mr. Johnson’s “horrible” email and complaints about him to the Florida Bar. He
testified that the drugs had not caused him to suffer any memory loss although he could not
remember how long he had been taking them. He said he believed he had starting taking Effexor
about “the time that Mr. Johnson began poisoning my reputation.”
In a February 10, 2007 letter to the Florida Bar, Mr. Johnson summarized the discoveries
appertaining to Mr. Libow’s use of prescription drugs:

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“The depositions and investigations that were conducted during the course of the Libow’s
litigation against us revealed that; Allen Libow has been under almost constant psychiatric care
for his persistent psychosis for more than twenty years. Consequently, Mr. Libow’s psychiatrist
has prescribed some very powerful medications, including but not limited to, Effexor, Luvox [a
drug similar to Effexor] and Xanax. Apparently those medications were prescribed for good
reason. Research shows many of the mental conditions that would prompt a Psychiatric
Physician to prescribe such powerful medications are; Manic Depression, Obsessive Compulsive
disorder and Bi-polar disorder. All of these maladies are at or near the top of that list. Despite
being under psychiatric care for over twenty (20) years, Mr. Libow claimed during his
depositions to have no knowledge of his official mental diagnosis. At one point claiming that as
far as he knows, he suffers from nothing more that anxiety. . However, research into the
medications (Composite Exhibit A-L-17). taken daily by Mr. Libow reveal that those
medications are typically prescribed to individuals who suffer from more serious mental
illnesses, such as, “bipolar disorder, severe depression, abnormal anxiety, irritability” obsessive
compulsive disorder, etc…. As set forth in the attached medical authority (Composite Exhibit AL-17) one the side effect of these illnesses and the medications prescribed to treat them is
‘holding false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts.’ Other side effects include but are not
limited to, Abnormal thinking, delusions, agitation, bizarre behavior, outbursts of anger,
irritability, confusion, suicidal thoughts, feeling of suspicion and distrust, loss of sense of reality,
aggressive behavior, unusual excitement, talking or acting with excitement you cannot control.”
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression illness, is characterized by radical mood
swings to so-called mood episodes on each pole, from joyful and excited, to hopeless and listless.
Manic behavior includes but is not limited to feeling high and happy, restlessness, insomnia,
talkativeness, impulsiveness, overvaluation of one’s self, and so on, while depressive behavior
includes but is not limited to feeling tired, irritable and let down, trouble concentrating and
remembering, undervaluation of one’s self, thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts and so on. The
moods last for relative long periods of time, perhaps for weeks. Anxiety disorders are associated
with this disorder. Although there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, professionals such as
lawyers may continue to function if treated with psychotherapy and drugs. Substance abuse is
common among persons with bipolar disorder. The afflicted person may attempt to relieve his
symptoms at one pole or the other through the self-medication of drugs such as alcohol,
marijuana, heroin, cocaine, etc, and/or he may rely on doctors to prescribe mood-stabilizing,
anticonvulsant or antipsychotic drugs, perhaps along with serotonin reuptake inhibiting drugs, to
treat his symptoms, the side effects of which may, paradoxically, aggravate the symptoms and
even result in suicide.
People whose behavior borders on psychosis or disjunction from reality were at one time called
“borderlines,” and the term endured. The person with borderline disorder, which is associated
with other disorders such as bipolar, depression and anxiety disorders as well as disorders
resulting from drug abuse, has intense, brief bouts of depressed, angry, and anxious moods,
perhaps lasting a few hours or a day at most. He feels unworthy, is severely slighted by negative
criticism and anything else perceived to be rejection. His social relationships are quite unstable.
Borderlines have a high incidence of self-injury including suicide. They are more likely than
others to be victims of violence. So called mood-stabilizing drugs and antidepressants are used to
alleviate the symptoms.
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Many people swear by Xanax despite paradoxical side effects including rage, hostility, mania,
aggressive and bizarre behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, suicidal ideation and trouble
sleeping. Some of the known side effects, some of them paradoxical, of Effexor – a serotoninnorepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) used to treat of major depression and anxiety disorders
– are insomnia, memory loss, nervousness, agitation or increased anxiety, panic attacks,
psychosis, hostility, mania, homicidal thoughts, aggression, depersonalization. Mania, psychosis,
rapid cycling and mixed states seemed to be especially induced by the drug in bipolar patients,
i.e. those suffering from rapid mood swings. And an increasingly high risk of suicide was noted
in subjects taking the drug, something that the Bar should find alarming since the legal
profession itself has a high incidence of suicide attempts and successful self-murders.
Mr. Libow examined Mr. Johnson’s bar complaint and some email on his home computer.
According to a June 6, 2006, deposition, he said email from Mr. Johnson “freaks me out and I
have to take more” (Xanax than usual). He said he became anxious later that day, particularly
over the email, so he took some Xanax.
Q. What specifically in those e-mails, then, caused you later in the day to
prescribe yourself Xanax or take Xanax?
A. Well, I don't –
MR. TIFFORD: Excuse me. Let's give me a chance to make objections to the
form of the question, which I now pose. That's a disjunctive question. Which one

MR. PERRY [Johnsons’ lawyer]: I'll rephrase.
MR. TIFFORD: -- do you want answered?
BY MR. PERRY
Q. What was the purpose that you took Xanax on Saturday?
A. I couldn't believe that there was a human being out there that thought that the
movie Cape Fear was really something where the attorney was the lunatic in the
movie. It was the client. And for anybody to construe it that way really had to
have problems and I was nervous for myself and my family still to this day with
Mr. Johnson in the room.
Q. You're afraid of Mr. Johnson? Is that what you're saying?
A. Yes. I -- I can only do so much for myself, but for my wife and my kids,
there is --there is worry about what Mr. Johnson is capable of doing.
Q. Okay.
A. -- someone who can make that kind of conclusion.

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Q. So you're -- you're -A. -- about the movie Cape Fear.
Q. You're reading the Cape Fear e-mails? Is that what you were reading?
A. Yeah.
Q. Okay. Anything else that you were reading that caused you anxiety that day?
A. No.
We remember the classic pot-boiler well – marijuana enthusiasts claim that it is far more thrilling
when viewed under the influence of weed. The character Sam Bowden in the latest screenplay of
the vigilante-gone-mad book (The Executioners) by famed Florida author John D. Macdonald
was the public defender of illiterate rapist Max Cady.
No doubt Mr. Libow’s lead counsel, ex-Marine judge advocate Capt. Tifford, noted well that, in
the original movie, Bowden was a judge advocate, i.e. member of the Navy’s Judge Advocate
General Corps, on leave in Australia, where he witnessed the rape. But in the latest screenplay,
Bowden was not a witness; as Cady’s defense attorney, he forfeited a professional scruple and
buried evidence about the promiscuity of the victim; as a consequence, his client would get a
longer, much deserved prison sentence.
We recall that Cady learned to read law books including the Holy Bible while in prison. He
tattooed scriptures about vengeance on his body, and unsuccessfully appealed his case several
times pro se. After his release, he stalked the Bowden family. Bowden tried to have him arrested,
but a policeman pointed out that there had not yet been evidence of a crime, so Bowden
threatened Cady, who recorded the threat and got a restraining order; in addition, his new lawyer
filed a complaint with the North Carolina State Bar, vowing to have Bowden disbarred.
The movie culminated in a scene on Cape Fear, to which the Bowden family fled. Cady
confronted them on their boat, beat up Bowden and got ready to rape his wife and daughter, but
he was squirted with lighter fluid and set afire; he jumped into the river to douse the flames,
pulled himself back aboard, and conducted a mock trial of Bowden, who confesses he had buried
evidence that would have drawn Cady a lesser sentence; however, to exculpate himself, he
claimed a woman’s promiscuity does not excuse rape – that defense had since been disallowed
by the courts. Bowden got the best of Cady, shackled him to the boat and nearly caved his head
in with a rock. Apparently Cady had not read the part of the Bible that says, “Vengeance is mine
sayeth the Lord.” The boat sank downriver taking Cady with it.
What sank into Mr. Johnson’s amygdala, the almond-shaped portion of the brain that deals with
emotional responses such as fear and anger, was the fact that the victim who was killed in Cape
Fear was not the lawyer but was the lawyer’s nemesis, the client he had betrayed. And the fact
that he, similar to Cady, was appearing pro se in the county court case, and had filed complaints
against the lawyers with the Florida Bar, lawyers whom he perceived as unscrupulous for
maliciously prosecuting him and perverting judicial process in an attempt to shake him down for
$100,000 to begin with, certainly did not go over his heed unheeded.
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“Now I don’t give a damn who you are,” Mr. Johnson complained to the Florida Bar on February
10, 2005, “how big you are, how tough you are or how many guns you own, that is a frightening
threat, especially coming from someone with the delusional self-serving perception of reality that
is Allen Libow.”
The Cape Fear emails were a culmination of a January 2005 email exchange between Mr.
Johnson and Chad Laing, an attorney with the Libow firm, over the scheduling of hearings on
motions, with copies to Mr. Libow and other attorneys in his firm involved with the case. Mr.
Laing, accordingly to Mr. Johnson, would eventually have cause to hate Mr. Libow, to leave the
firm and sue it (Chad R. Laing Esq. v Libow & Shaheen, Circuit Court Case 502008CA012256).
Mr. Johnson, appearing in the small claims court pro se without help of counsel, was anxious to
go to trial, wherefore he had filed a motion for a speedy trial and expected to be heard on his
motion via telephone on Dec. 17, 2004. The perverted litigation process he was then confronted
with was enough to drive any layman mad, although lawyers are accustomed to it and may use it
to their advantage. The judicial assistant for the county court said he would be called, but he did
not receive the expected call at the appointed time. He said had waited an hour and a half to be
called, and then called the judicial assistant, whom he said told him, after she put him on hold
and returned from her investigation, that she was puzzled because his motion had been denied
although he had not been called by the court. He also thought there would be hearings that day
on two motions made by the plaintiff, rescheduled from Jan. 21, 2005, as per notice received
from the Libow firm on Dec. 14, 2004. He later went online and checked the Palm Beach County
Court docket to find that his motion for a speedy trial had been dismissed. Since there was no
record of the plaintiff’s two motions, he assumed they had been abandoned.
When he apprised Mr. Laing of what had happened on his end, Mr. Laing informed him that the
judge had not had time to hear the plaintiff’s motions that day, so they would be heard on the
originally scheduled day, January 21, 2005. As for the denial of Mr. Johnson’s motion for a
speedy trial, there must have been a misunderstanding between him and the judicial assistant: it
was Mr. Johnson’s responsibility to call the court and therefore appear before it; at least that was
what Mr. Laing said he had learned over his years of experience as a licensed lawyer. The court
had waited an hour for his call by putting the case at the end of the docket, and then went ahead
with the hearing based upon Mr. Laing’s arguments and a review of the file: motion denied.
Mr. Johnson believed he was being tricked by the double rescheduling of the plaintiff’s two
motions, now set back to the original date with no notice to him. As Mr. Johnson explained it
later, “Laing had somehow managed to get the hearing moved from Judge Jaffee’s courtroom
(which is where the hearing was scheduled and where I was calling) to Judge Bragger’s
courtroom. I was not made aware of this apparent last minute change and both Laing and Libow
knew that. How am I supposed to call the judge if I don’t know who or where he is? While I was
anxious to get the case to trial ASAP, Libow was concentrating his efforts in the exact opposite
direction. He was intent on churning the litigation process in a concentrated effort to get his fees
up to the $100,000 that he was demanding from us.”
One of the Libow motions was to invoke the rules of procedure used in the circuit court, the
invocation of which would put him at a disadvantage against lawyers well versed in all the tricks
of the litigious trade.
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“You are now telling me that it is your intention to have those very same motions
heard on January 21, 2005. When had you planned to inform me of this hearing?
Did you hope to win again by default? Are fairness, ethics and courtesy that rare a
commodity?”
Mr. Laing, not appreciating suggestion of unethical behavior, said that he was not trying to hide
anything. He reiterated Mr. Johnson’s responsibility, and responded, in part:
“…. I have done nothing improper at anytime during this litigation. If you need
to pick a fight with someone, go right ahead and argue with the Judge during the
January 21, 2005 hearing or draft an e-mail or letter to Judge Breggar. I am sure
he would appreciate your antics…. It is not my responsibility to hold your hand
through this litigation….. I do not appreciate you somehow placing blame on me
for your incompetence….”
That handily flamed the sparks into flames; at least Mr. Johnson was obviously inflamed:
‘My antics? Your conniving is blatantly obvious. You are desperately trying to
prevail on procedure because your case has no merit…. You rescheduled your
motions to be heard along with mine at 8:45am on December 17th. I made no
objection, though I could have based upon your improper three (3) days notice.
When you noticed me that you had rescheduled your motions to be heard on
12/17/2004 you effectively abandoned the previously scheduled hearing date of
January 21, 2005. Under the rules of procedure you cannot have two (2) hearings
scheduled simultaneously with regard to the very same motions. I am certain that
given your "years of experience in Small Claims Court and Circuit Court" that
you are no doubt aware of this fact. I am likewise certain that you routinely ignore
the rules of court that run contrary to your twisted agenda of winning at any price.
If I were not so anxious to be rid of you, I would force you to reschedule this
matter. Every time I have to deal with you people I feel the need to go take a
shower…. I caution you to make some effort to behave in a fair and ethical
manner. I will be filing another addendum to my Bar Complaint against you with
regards your most recent unethical conduct. I will continue to complain to the
Florida Bar so as long as you continue to behave in an unfair and/or unethical
manner.’
Mr. Laing, now ever so cool and professional, simply responded all actions taken by him and his
firm had been ethical, fair and in line with procedure, and that he had no regrets. At that juncture,
Mr. Libow impulsively inserted himself into the email exchange, with copies to everyone
concerned, simply shouting two words:
CAPE FEAR!!
Mr. Libow’s message had the desired effect on Mr. Johnson:
‘YOU ALVIN [ALLEN], ARE ABOUT AS MENTALLY SICK AN
INDIVIDUAL AS I HAVE EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE TO
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ENCOUNTER! THAT MAKES YOU A DANGER TO YOURSELF AND
OTHERS. YOU NEED TO HAVE YOUR DOCTOR INCREASE YOUR
MEDICATION BEFORE YOU DO SOMETHING THAT LANDS YOU IN
PRISON FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
‘KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE THE MATURITY AND MENTAL
CAPACITY OF A TWELVE YEAR OLD, I DELIBERATELY TRIED TO
AVOID DEALING WITH YOU. THAT IS WHY I ADDRESSED MY
INQUIRY TO THE LESSER OF THE TWO EVILS IN YOUR "FIRM"
‘UNLESS YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY THAT IS GERMAINE TO THE
PENDING LITIGATION DO NOT CONTACT ME IN ANY WAY, SHAPE,
MATTER OR FORM. ON SECOND THOUGHT, DON'T YOU EVER
CONTACT ME AGAIN FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER. IF YOU HAVE
SOMETHING TO SAY THEN SAY IT THROUGH ONE OF YOUR
LACKEYS.
‘I SAW THE MOVIE TO WHICH YOU REFER AND I FULLY
UNDERSTAND YOUR THREAT. I WILL INCLUDE THAT INFORMATION
IN THE ADDENDUM TO THE PENDING FLORIDA BAR COMPLAINT.’
Mr. Libow’s rejoinder soon followed:
‘It was not a threat. It was a warning to one of my associates about just how
dangerous you really are. We will deal with you, in kind, as you know the actions
you have taken (some of which I believe you have the mental capacity to
understand but, for some reason, don’t care about their repercussions to your wife
and yourself) have now increased your liabilities to levels of which you have no
comprehension. Again, given that you are such a “man of means”, I strongly
suggest that you contact no one in my firm through any means but by motion
through an attorney hired by you. Any further communication you make without
being made by motion will not be answered. So, write away, if you will. It will
go without further answer, but rather with questions, when you are deposed.’
Mr. Johnson’s means were modestly middle-class. The plaintiffs would eventually have someone
fly up to take a close look at the home the Johnsons were remodeling, to assure themselves that
his means were more than adequate; no doubt they figured he would eventually cave in to their
$100,000 demand, a sum they conceived to be with the “sweet spot” range where affluent people
cough up a settlement rather than resist at far greater expense to themselves. But Mr. Johnson
would take out a second mortgage to fight what he considered was a continuous attempt to extort
money from him – ironically, considering that he was the one being sued for libel, on old term
for such threatening letters was ‘libel.’
In retrospect it is apparent that Mr. Libow was projecting his own malice or ill will onto Mr.
Johnson, who was duly incensed and not about to back off, hence a vicious cycling ensued. Mr.
Libow was his own worst enemy and that put everyone around him at risk, particularly his
chosen archenemy – the screen for his unbridled self-enmity. The easily enraged lawyer,
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apparently subject not only to delusions of persecution but to the delusions of grandeur on the
flip side of the paranoia coin, even to episodes of malignant narcissism, was rendered doubly
dangerous to anyone who crossed him when he had Mr. Tifford to back him up in a court of law.
Mr. Johnson had good cause to fear the two when in unholy alliance against him; maybe he
should have offered Mr. Tifford $25,000 to be done with the matter.
Indeed, perhaps he should have tried to chisel the $100,000 down or even tried to embrace Mr.
Libow like a friend or loving Christian if he had known how Mr. Tifford liked to brag about his
alleged combat experience in Vietnam, how he was “a trained killer,” and about his connections
to the CIA and its secret missions, which of course the agency would deny if he was captured
behind enemy lines. He was overheard recalling that he personally put twenty-three men in body
bags, and saying that he took no prisoners in Vietnam, implying they were killed after
interrogation.
# # 

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FROM THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON
by David Arthur Walters

Seizure of Courthouse by Rebels during Shay’s Rebellion  

 

THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT’S BUREAUCRATIC ASS

Beware! If you file a complaint against an attorney with the Florida Bar, you may be sued by that
attorney for defamation. The suit against you will ultimately be unsuccessful provided that you
have a quarter-million dollars or so to defend yourself. And if you win the case because you were
financially able to retain an attorney and got the luck of the draw from the court, you may never
recover your expenditures or your peace of mind; despite your forgiving religion, you may be
left embittered for the rest of your life. And while you are being literally tortured on the legal
rack, the Florida Bar may, as one David Johnson knows only too well, “sit on its bureaucratic
ass.”
The defamation lawsuit brought by Allen H. Libow, Esq. and his bevy of attorneys against David
Johnson and his wife in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court was in retaliation for an absolutely
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privileged petition Mr. Johnson had made to the Florida Bar, the licensing and disciplinary “arm”
of the Supreme Court of Florida, begging for redress of his grievances against Allen H. Libow,
an officer of the Supreme Court of Florida. Mr. Johnson won the case after an agonizing battle
protracted by the punitive dilatory and deceptive tactics of the plaintiff’s lawyers, and has now
sued Mr. Libow for malicious prosecution. Hopefully he will win his case, not only for his own
sake but for the sake of the class of consumers who are routinely abused by members of the
Florida Bar while the Florida Bar sits on its thumbs, claiming there is no probable cause to
believe there is any such abuse while it is going on under its noses, or “asses,” if you please.
Unfortunately for the consumers of legal services in Florida, it is ultimately up to the costly and
cumbersome law courts and not the Florida Bar to protect the victims of unethical lawyers from
retaliation for filing complaints against them with the Florida Bar, the “arm” of the Florida
Supreme Court with which the political-economic interests of lawyers are “integrated” in an
inherent and colossal conflict of interest pursuant to the judicial branch’s self-declared “inherent
power” to regulate its members and protect itself from interference from the executive and
legislative branches.
Judges sitting in the county and circuits courts may discipline unruly lawyers with sanctions,
fining them or tossing them in jail for contempt. They may also have a state attorney appointed
to prosecute an attorney in the relevant circuit court for an alleged violation of the Rules of the
Florida Bar, a step that is rarely taken. Judges also have a right and a duty to turn unethical
practitioners into the Florida Bar; the lawyers charged with investigating the conduct of lawyers
there will naturally take a judge’s complaint seriously, but judges, who are lawyers themselves,
seldom file such complaints against lawyers.
And of course consumers may file complaints at the headquarters of the Florida Bar, where staff
lawyers dispense with the most of them as patently non-actionable. Alternatively, complaints
may be filed with Florida Bar grievance committees, agents of the Florida Supreme Court
dominated by lawyers, throughout the state. Relatively few consumer complaints are thoroughly
investigated if at all, and a finding of probably cause that the Rules were violated occurs only in
a very small percentage of the total complaints received from consumers. And then bar counsel,
acting as a prosecutor, prosecutes the cases before a referee, an agent of the Supreme Court
appointed by the Court, before whom the disciplinary case, deemed by the Rules to be neither
criminal nor civil, is tried according to an informal procedure. The Supreme Court reviews the
referee’s findings and recommendations, and makes the final judgments, most likely softening
the recommendations of the referee.
Although this disciplinary process is highly favorable to lawyers on the whole, or rather to those
who choose to kowtow to the power elite, and especially favors lawyers and those practicing
with powerful law firms, lawyers naturally resent having complaints about them filed with their
peers at the Florida Bar. The legal process may resolve conflicts inasmuch as it averts violent
physical combat, but consumers embittered by the experience for one reason or the other may
wish to blame the lawyers, either rightly or wrongly, and complain about their conduct to the
self-regulating Bar. The indignant lawyer may feel that s/he has been defamed, or may wish the
bar to believe so, hence s/he may threaten to file a defamation suit against the complainant if the
complaint is not withdrawn, or s/he may simply file suit to retaliate and put the squeeze on the
consumer.
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The lawyer may feel that s/he has every legal right to do just that. Until the mid-twentieth
century, courts held that attorneys have a right to bring malicious prosecution, defamation, and
similar tort cases against people who bring disciplinary complaints against them. After all, would
it not be unconstitutional to deprive attorneys of a right afforded to everyone else, to obtain a
remedy in court for damage to their reputation? But officers of the court are now held to a higher
standard that impinges on the usual rights. Nearly thirty states have explicitly barred such actions
by court rule or statute. They are barred by common law in the State of Florida since Stone v.
Rosen and Tobkin v. Jarboe. The Florida judiciary has mercifully granted a special privilege—
not a right—for consumers to petition the government for grievances against lawyers without
being successfully sued for doing so. The Florida Bar, to the best of our knowledge, has only
recognized that privilege once, in The Florida Bar v James Daniel Eckert, File No. 2009-11,071
(6C), and has not explicitly enshrined the privilege as a Rule despite our request to do so. But
never mind, the Bar may violate its own Rules with impunity, as we have noticed in a number
cases; the rule-maker is naturally above the rules.
STONE V. ROSEN 
The notion of ‘privilege’ in a libel action is that conduct that otherwise might be punished is
immune because of certain circumstances. That privilege may be limited by qualifications set by
law, or the privilege may be absolute. A person publishing an absolutely privileged statement to
a public authority could not be successfully sued for defamation even if the injurious statement
were a bald-faced lie maliciously made. If s/he published it elsewhere, a defamation suit might
be successful. 
In the case of Stone v. Rosen, 348 So.2d 387 (Fla. 3d DCA 1977), one Lynne Rosen wrote a
letter to The Florida Bar complaining that attorney David Stone was improperly commingling his
personal funds with those of his clients. The Florida Bar found no probable cause to bring
disciplinary proceedings against Stone. Stone then filed an action for malicious prosecution
against Rosen claiming that Rosen's accusations to The Florida Bar were false, malicious, and
made without probable cause. But Rosen asserted the defense of absolute immunity for all
complaints made against a lawyer with the appropriate regulatory agency, The Florida Bar. The
trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Rosen, finding that Rosen's complaint to The
Florida Bar was at least qualifiedly privileged.
The appellate court affirmed the trail court’s finding, stating that the privilege was absolute, “A
more important point is what we find to be an absolute privilege on the part of a citizen to make
a complaint against a member of the integrated bar of this State,” noting that, “There is a split of
authority in the country as to whether or not one making a complaint against a member of the bar
is entitled to a qualified privilege or an absolute one.”
Florida attorneys would simply have to grin and bear unfounded complaints made against them:
“For the sake of maintaining the high standards of the profession and disciplining those who
violate the Canons of Legal Ethics, one who elects to enjoy the status and benefits as a member
of the legal profession must give up certain rights or causes of action which, in this instance, is
the right to file an action against a complainant who lodges an unsuccessful complaint with the
Grievance Committee of The Florida Bar.”

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The Florida appellate court cited Toft v. Ketchum, 18 N.J. 280, 113 A.2d 671 (1955), a New
Jersey Supreme Court case involving a malicious prosecution action by an attorney against a
citizen who had filed a complaint with the grievance committee. In holding that an absolute
privilege was the appropriate defense, Chief Justice Vanderbilt, joined by William Brennan, who
would become a United States Supreme Court Justice, Justice Vanderbilt wrote:
“In dealing with this issue we are confronted by two conflicting considerations of
policy. On the one hand, there is the injury that may be suffered by any attorney
as a result of the institution of disciplinary proceedings against him on what turns
out to be improper or groundless charges. Even if the charges against him are
found to be baseless and the complaint is dismissed, he still may suffer from the
public knowledge of these proceedings which may damage his reputation and
injure his ability in the future to earn a living. On the other hand, however, it is in
the public interest to encourage those who have knowledge of any unethical
conduct of attorneys to present such information to the appropriate county ethics
and grievance committee so that this court may carry out its constitutional
disciplinary duties…. In attempting to do justice as between these two conflicting
interests, we are necessarily forced to give great weight to the fact that we have
been charged by Constitution with the solemn duty of ridding the bar of those
who are unfit to practice our profession. As we have seen, this is fundamentally a
duty to the public and it is necessary that we make every effort to do this job to
the best of our ability. If each person who files a complaint with the ethics and
grievance committee may be subject to a malicious prosecution action by the
accused attorney there is no question but that the effect in many instances would
be the suppression of legitimate charges against attorneys who have been guilty of
unethical conduct, a result clearly not in the public interest. And although to
deprive an attorney of his right to recover damages in a civil action for the
malicious filing of such a complaint without probable cause occasionally works a
hardship upon the attorney…we are of the opinion that this result must follow if
we are to properly carry out our constitutional duty to maintain the high standards
in our bar…."
Unfounded complaints and perhaps even legitimate complaints filed with The Florida Bar were
kept confidential at the time of Stone v. Rosen, so at least no harm would be done to an
attorney’s reputation provided that the complainant limited his or her complaint to The Florida
Bar: “The present rules of the integrated bar give counsel adequate protection of confidentiality
until a finding of probable cause and an independent vote as to whether or not the proceedings
will be made public.” (Art. 11, Rule 11.12, Integration Rule of The Florida Bar).
Stone v Rosen set the precedent for Florida in respect to lawyers prosecuting persons who file
complaints against them with the Florida Bar: “This case appears to be one of first impression in
Florida,” stated the court, “and has drawn the interest of The Florida Bar by its appearance in this
proceeding as amicus curiae. Therefore, because of the impact of this decision on the members
of The Florida Bar, we are going to certify same to the Supreme Court of Florida as passing upon
a question of great public interest.”

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Since Stone v Rosen was decided, the Florida Supreme Court adopted Florida Bar Rule 3-7.1,
which opened up the grievance process to public scrutiny; in effect, once a final decision is made
on a complaint, the record becomes public and any person may refer to it or republish it with
impunity, just as s/he could in a court case where the records were not sealed by court order.
After all, how could the enforcement arm of the Florida Supreme Court be held accountable if its
findings of no probable cause were kept secret? Now it does that by destroying the file including
the record that there was any file one year after the decision is made. By the time someone has
cause to check out an attorney on the Florida Bar’s website, that record along with perhaps a
whole string of records indicating a pattern of misconduct has been destroyed in order to protect
the reputation of the attorney and render the Bar unaccountable for negligence and misconduct.
TOBKIN V. JARBOE
The more recent case that the Florida Bar currently cites in response to inquiries about the
liability of persons who file complaints against attorneys is Tobkin v. Jarboe, 710 So.2d 975
(Fla. 1998). Attorney Donald A. Tobkin had appealed the judgment of the Florida district court
against him to the Supreme Court of Florida. Attorneys for the Jarboes described the situation to
the Supreme Court of Florida in their Answer Brief dated December 22, 1997.
“This case arises from a decision in August 1989 by Donald A. Tobkin, a Florida
Bar member, to undertake representation of the Jarboe family -- Linda and her
three children, Kimberly,' Deborah and Ryan Jarboe -- in a probate matter arising
in Pennsylvania even though he was not a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. After
the Jarboes, who lived in Ohio and Indiana, terminated Tobkin for making false
statements about them in pleadings, one of the daughters, Kimberly, complained
in letters to the Florida Bar dated February 25, 1992, and April 17, 1992, about
Tobkin's professional conduct. Her mother allegedly verified the
allegations.Tobkin sued his former clients on August 4, 1992, claiming breach of
contract and various torts. Persevering through multiple dismissals, he ultimately
amended his complaint to include claims for libel based on the Bar complaints.
The trial court finally dismissed the fourth version of the complaint on March 26,
1996, three-and-a-half years after the lawsuit began. The Fourth District upheld
that result more than a year later on May 21, 1997. Now, almost six full years
from the date of Kimberly's first complaint to the Bar, Tobkin, having lost all his
other claims against the Jarboes, continues to prosecute Kimberly and her mother
for libel. The judicial odyssey forced upon Linda and Kimberly by his libel claims
demonstrates the need for an absolute privilege to protect those who complain to
the Florida Bar. As this Court and others have recognized in placing general
restraints on actions for defamation, a lawsuit for libel is a potent weapon in the
hands of any civil litigant who wishes to deter critics.. In the hands of a lawyer
unsettled by a former client's complaints, a lawsuit for libel is not only a potent
weapon, but a potentially debilitating weapon that can be deployed at minimal
cost to the lawyer but with such maximum effect on the complainant that even its
existence threatens the integrity of the Bar and its members by silencing
legitimate critics. For this reason, Florida courts, as well as courts throughout the
country, historically have embraced the principle that absolute protection is
essential to protect citizens, who themselves are benefitted only rarely by the
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Bar's quasi-judicial disciplinary proceedings, from libel suits based on the
complaints that commence those proceedings.”
The attorneys cited Nodar v. Galbreath 462 So.2nd 893 (Fla 1st DCA 1985) as an expression of
the “general restraints” Florida courts have placed on defamation suits. That case, “recognizing
necessity of common law privilege to protect speech,” would also be cited in the Answer Brief
by the Johnson’s attorney in Libow v. Johnson in the Fourth District Court of Appeal Case No.
4D08-1014 (2008). The “common law privilege” protecting speech is the privilege recognized
by Florida and other states independently of the privileges “constitutionalized” by the U.S.
Supreme Court’s interpretations of the United States Constitution. The person allegedly defamed
by Joseph J. Nodar in Nodar v. Galbreath, Patricia Galbreath, was not a lawyer; she was a public
high school teacher highly offended by Mr. Nodar’s remarks before a meeting of a Broward
County school board during a period set aside for public commentary. He claimed that his son
was being harassed by two teachers, one being Ms. Galbreath, who was, he said, unqualified to
teach. The court held that his speech was privileged inasmuch as “they were the statements of a
citizen to a political authority regarding matters of public concern, i.e., the school curriculum and
the performance of a public employee.” The privilege being considered was “qualified” because
it did not exempt defamatory statements made with “express malice” i.e. with ill will, hostility,
evil intention to defame and injure: where a person speaks upon a privileged occasion, but the
speaker is motivated more by a desire to harm the person defamed than by a purpose to protect
the personal or social interest giving rise to the privilege, then it can be said that there was
express malice and the privilege is destroyed. “The words themselves, we believe, are not so
extreme as to demonstrate express malice. Petitioner merely said that the teacher had harassed
and verbally abused his son, that she was unqualified to teach the course, and that her
performance as a teacher was victimizing his son. While we must accept the unchallenged
conclusion of the jury that these words were defamatory, the words do not inherently
demonstrate express malice.” Attorneys and journalists interested in the distinction between
constitutional “actual malice” and common law “express malice” may wish to study this case.
Now in Tobkin v. Jarboe, The Supreme Court of Florida gave its final order on May 28, 1998:
“We approve the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Tobkin and, as explained
above, resolve any conflict in the Bar Rules decision in favor of an absolute immunity for an
individual who files a complaint against an attorney as long as the complainant makes no public
announcement of the complaint outside the grievance process. It is so ordered.”
“Florida is not alone in recognizing an absolute immunity for individuals who file
complaints against members of an integrated Bar,” stated the Florida Supreme
Court.“Most jurisdictions throughout the United States recognize an absolute
immunity for Bar complainants. See, e.g., Ala. R. Disc. P. 15(a); Ga. State Bar R.
4-221(g). In addition, the American Bar Association's Model Rules for Lawyer
Disciplinary Enforcement recognize an absolute privilege for communications
made within grievance procedures. See Model Rules For Lawyer Disciplinary
Enforcement Rule 12 (1993)(The ABA Model Rules For Lawyer Disciplinary
Enforcement Rule 12 states in relevant part: Communications to the board,
hearing committees, or disciplinary counsel relating to lawyer misconduct or
disability and testimony given in the proceedings shall be absolutely privileged,
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and no lawsuit predicated thereon may be instituted against any complainant or
witness.)”
Tobkin’s counsel argued that absolute immunity from retaliation was only afforded to Bar
complainants at the time of Stone v Rosen because innocent attorneys were protected by
confidentiality under the Bar Rule in place at the time. However, since the relevant Rule was
changed, so that all completed files were opened up to publicity whether the lawyer charged was
held guilty or innocent, they argued that the absolute privilege was effective removed. That
argument did not wash with the court:
“We resolve this apparent conflict in favor of the district court's decision in
Tobkin. The changes made to the rules in our Bar Rules decision did not remove
the absolute immunity afforded an individual who files a Bar complaint against a
member of The Florida Bar under the circumstances that exist here. Inherent in
the Bar Rules decision was this Court's recognition of the strong public policy
reasons for encouraging individuals with knowledge of attorney misconduct to
step forward and present such evidence so that this Court may carry out its
disciplinary duties. We acknowledge the possibility that groundless or baseless
complaints against attorneys may sometimes be filed by individuals. However,
Bar complainants must be encouraged to step forward with legitimate complaints,
which will further the important public policy of disciplining attorney
misconduct.”
“We also recognize the inequitable balance of power that may exist between an
attorney who brings a defamation action and the client who must defend against
it, which in turn creates the potential for attorney intimidation of Bar
complainants. Attorneys schooled in the law have the ability to pursue defamation
litigation through their own means and with minimal expense when compared
with the Bar complainants. Conversely, the cost of litigation coupled with the risk
of liability in defending against such an action could be enough to discourage an
individual from bringing a meritorious complaint. The mere possibility of chilling
valid complaints would undermine public confidence in this Court's ability to
regulate and discipline unethical members of The Florida Bar.
“Thus, we hold that an individual who files a complaint against an attorney and
makes no public announcement of the complaint, thereby allowing the grievance
procedure to run its natural course, is afforded absolute immunity from a
defamation action by the complained-against attorney. However, if, after filing a
complaint, the complainant comments publicly or outside the grievance process,
then the afforded immunity ceases to exist.”
“Recognizing an absolute immunity for a complainant who follows The Florida
Bar grievance procedures when filing a complaint will prevent any chilling effect
on Bar complaints while at the same time adequately protect attorneys. If an
individual files a complaint against an attorney and the Bar Grievance Committee
finds probable cause to believe the attorney is guilty of misconduct justifying
disciplinary action, then the attorney is clearly in no position to complain about
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the absolute immunity afforded the complainant. However, if a baseless Bar
complaint is filed against an attorney and the Bar Grievance Committee returns a
finding of no probable cause, then public exoneration is a suitable remedy for any
negative effects created by the public awareness that a complaint has been made
against that attorney.”
We note again that once the process is completed, the file becomes a public record regardless of
guilt or innocence; the findings can be retrieved from The Florida Bar website, and the
underlying case documents are available on request as per the Florida Constitution and Statutes.
The published records of cases in which no probable cause were found are especially crucial to
the public monitoring of the performance of The Florida Bar in light of the frequent complaints
that the lawyers ruling the Bar are arbitrary, prejudiced in favor of influential attorneys, and
sometimes incompetent.
Not only did lifting the gag order imposed under the previous Bar Rule encourage individuals to
step forth, the new Bar Rule, by allowing public access to grievance records, was intended to
foster public respect and confidence in the disciplinary system itself if not in lawyers at large.
However, and most unfortunately for the public, The Florida Bar, duly authorized by a general
records retention administrative rule promulgated by the Supreme Court of Florida, destroys all
records of complaints filed against attorneys one year after a finding of no probable cause, along
with any records that there were any such complaints – even worse, many complaints deemed
unworthy are not even logged into the system. Where probable cause is found, the official
documents are posted the lawyer’s page at the Florida Bar website; however, where there is no
probable cause, the lawyer’s page will show no disciplinary action. During the course of the
investigation, secrecy is maintained; unless one knows that a case is pending and can describe it
in particular, the Florida Bar will not say it is pending. A member of the general public would
never know that a dismissed case was closed without constantly calling The Florida Bar for
information. That way, patterns of lawyer misconduct and misconduct of The Florida Bar itself
can be and have been concealed. Sadly, there are ongoing attempts by police departments to
adopt for police officers a system similar to that for officers of the court; they would destroy all
records where no probable cause was found to discipline an officer; that way, there would be no
record that an officer, for example, had been accused of using excessive force two dozen times,
indicating a pattern of misbehavior although he was not disciplined for it.
Now none of the above is intended to impugn the Florida Bar for the good work that it does do.
We especially sympathize with Bar counsel and referees whose efforts to crack down on a
particular kind of misbehavior are thwarted by the Florida Supreme Court in shameful decisions.
Sadly, Floridians have to wait until the conduct of some of the most influential and trusted
lawyers in the state, encouraged by laxity and broken windows everywhere, becomes so
egregious and blatant that they are sent off to jail by federal judges. Indeed, there is much that
the Florida Bar should do that it does not do for one reason or the other, the ground of those
reasons being its inherent conflict of interest as an integrated bar.
One day Florida may wise up, like the mother country of English Law, and disintegrate the
Florida Bar, putting the disciplinary process in the executive branch, in a non-lawyer agency,
advised, of course, by lawyers. In any case, as long as The Florida Bar sits on its hands while
people like David Johnson are stretched on the rack in court by its members, and expects the
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costly and cumbersome law courts to ultimately discipline attorneys in many cases, we have
every right—not a privilege—of calling the Florida Bar the Florida Supreme Court’s
Bureaucratic Ass. We can only hope that the public including lawyers and journalists will start
kicking it instead of kissing it.
# # 
 
A fascinating Kentucky case on this subject: 

 

Morgan & Pottinger & GMAC Mortgage Corporation v. Noel Mark Botts, Supreme Court of Kentucky, 
2009‐SC‐00515‐TG, 2009‐SC‐000751‐SC, 2009‐SC‐00224, April 21, 2011 

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FROM ‘THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON
by David Arthur Walters

 
THE LAWYER’S COMMON DENOMINATOR

David Johnson had pleaded desperately in vain with the Florida Bar to reign in its “miscreant”
member, Allen H. Libow, whom he said had overbilled him and was harassing him with phone
calls, e-mails and threats of arrest after he refused to leave his case with the Libow firm instead
of letting Cynthia Becker take the case with her when she left the Libow law firm. The public
record reveals that, in an August 30, 2004, letter to the Florida Bar, Mr. Johnson complained that
Mr. Libow was trying to extort $100,000 from him, and had filed a false police report in an
attempt to coerce him into paying:
‘On August 6, 2004 just two days after Libow filed his $1,621 small claims
action, I was notified that Allen Libow had contacted the Boca Raton and
Jacksonville police departments in an effort to have me arrested. Allen Libow told
the police that I was making “threats of physical violence” and that those threats
were directed at him, his wife and his children. Allen Libow told the police that I
made these threats “because he [Libow] is Jewish”. EXHIBIT A-L-14 is a copy of
the Boca Raton Police Report filed personally by Allen Libow. In a clumsy
attempt to avoid complicity, Allen Libow stated in the attached e-mail (EXHIBIT
“C”) that it was his wife’s idea to “report you [me] to the police”, not his. But as
clearly evidenced by that Police report, it was Allen Libow who contacted the
Police, not his wife. As a consequence of Libow’s attempts to have me arrested, I
contacted the Boca Raton Police Department where I spoke first with C.S.O.
Casolari and later with Detective Dibenedetto. I advised them that all
communications between Allen Libow and myself were in writing and that if I
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had in fact made any “threats of physical violence” as alleged by Allen Libow that
those threats could easily be found in those written correspondence.
Consequently, Detective Dibenedetto requested copies of these allegedly
threatening communications. Upon review of those communications Detectives
Dibenedetto and B.D. Turnbull stated in their official police report that they
“could not find any threats made within the messages.” Nor did they “observe any
implicit statement which could be construed as a specific threat against Mr.
Libow.” Allen Libow attempted to elevate the alleged crime of “threats of
physical violence” to the level of a felony hate crime by claiming that I was
threatening him and his family ‘because he is Jewish’. The police addressed that
issue as well when they stated in their official police report that “Mr. Libow,
himself, does make reference to his religious background without any provocation
from Mr. Johnson.”
‘In making what is clearly a false Police report of a serious crime, one of the first
things that Allen Libow does is to advise the Police, ‘Johnson is refusing to pay
his firm a debt that is owed for services.’ Allen Libow apparently thinks that
intimidation and coercion from the police might help to motivate some payment.
At the close of their investigation the Police conclude “no further investigation is
required.” Unfortunately, this would not be the last time that Allen Libow would
threaten me with arrest. As evidence by the attached e-mails (composite
EXHIBIT “D”) my imminent arrest and incarceration was a recurring threat made
repeatedly by Allen Libow. All I had to do to avoid the possibility of arrest and
incarceration was to send Allen Libow a check for $100,000.
‘Throughout this litigation, Allen Libow would repeatedly accuse me of making
“threats of physical violence” toward him and/or his family. I defy Allen Libow to
produce any evidence of so much as a single “threat of physical violence” toward
him and/or any member of his family.’
David Johnson’s September 2, 2004 addendum to his complaint to the Florida Bar No. 200550,223(15A) averred that “Allen Libow is guilty of filing a false police report as defined by FSS
817.49.” He attached an email from Mr. Libow threatening him with police action, with Mr.
Libow stating that he was “not in control” of his wife’s decision to have him “provide an
information statement concerning your physical threats of ‘taking me to task.’” That quoted
phrase appeared in the context of the email Mr. Johnson had sent him: “I will without benefit of
any further notice to you or your representative(s) seek every lawful remedy available to me
under every relevant authority to take you to task for your transgressions.” So the Libows
interpreted “taking to task” as a “physical threat” of the nature of a hate crime.
Mr. Libow wound up his email threat “on a civil note,” as he put it, and asked Mr. Johnson to
have his attorney contact his attorney. Mr. Johnson interpreted that as a “sinister ploy to coerce
me into settlement.” So he fired back, “You go your way, I’ll go mine. You drop all your
demands and I will forgo my legal remedies with regard to your unlawful practice.” Mr. Libow
responded with a request that Mr. Johnson have his attorney draft an offer of settlement
accordingly and send it to him for review. Mr. Johnson asked if they had a deal or not. Instead of
responding with a yes or no answer, Mr. Libow gave him an eight-paragraph email, in the
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seventh paragraph admitting that Mr. Johnson had got stuck in a controversy between him and
Cindy Becker. Mr. Johnson replied to Mr. Libow, informing him that he needed “psychological
counseling,” said his offer of settlement was withdrawn, and instructed him to stop emailing him.
Now we see from the public record that Mr. Johnson often referred to Mr. Libow’s mental state,
identifying him as “emotionally disturbed,” “emotionally challenged,” “a psychotic misfit,”
“emotionally unfit for his position of trust in the community,” and so on. His allegations as to the
mental soundness of the lawyer would eventually be treated by the circuit court as mere opinions
not actionable at law as defamation, a technical position we may address in another part of this
series. Suffice it to say for now that the legal profession has one of the highest incidences of
mental illness. A review of the public file indicates that Mr. Libow was subject to emotional
disturbances, and may have been exhibiting bipolar or perhaps borderline syndrome; if the
Florida Bar investigators had diligently examined the complaints before them, they would have
seen some cause to intervene to assist their afflicted member. Be that as it may, Mr. Johnson,
given what he and his family suffered, demonstrated little sympathy for psychological
rationalizations; he was convinced he was dealing with a scoundrel if not a crazy fox who was
trying to shake him down for $100,000.
In his letter to the Bar, Mr. Johnson stated that, unknown to him, Mr. Libow had filed a suit
against him and his wife two days prior to the August 6, 2004 email exchange, wherefore Mr.
Libow’s attempt to negotiate had been a pretense, one made in “bad faith.” Nonetheless, we
cannot opine what Mr. Libow’s intentions were at the time. And he might have, if his will were
ill at the time, in a positive mood swing to goodwill, agreed to drop the matter. Still, Mr.
Johnson, given his continuous adverse experience with Mr. Libow, had absolutely no faith in
him.
Mr. Johnson further complained to the Bar that Mr. Libow, by communicating about their
relationship with Mrs. Libow, had breached confidentiality: “Finally, the issues between Allen
Libow and myself were of no concern to Mrs. Libow or anyone else outside the law firm of
Libow & Muskat. I believe that I have a right under the Florida Bar Rules to expect that the
communications between my attorney, past or present, are confidential even after the termination
of that relationship. I had a lawful right to expect that the communications between us were
confidential. Mr. Libow had an ethical and legal obligation under the law to protect that
confidentiality.”
After nine months had passed since Mr. Johnson filed the complaint, he besought the Bar, which
had yet done nothing, to “get off your bureaucratic asses and do something before this twisted
madman lands us all on the six o’clock news.” The Bar investigator told him he did not like his
“tone,” and the complaint was dismissed that day, the Bar finding “no probable cause” to sustain
his grievance. One month later, Mr. Libow, apparently poised for the occasion, sued Mr. and
Mrs. Johnson for defamation with regard to the comments Mr. Johnson alone had made in an
absolutely privileged and unpublished complaint to the Florida Bar. All in all, forty-one counts
of defamation would eventually be asserted and finally defeated in circuit court, upheld on
appeal.
Mr. Johnson had alleged certain facts in his Bar complaint, submitted some documentation in
support thereof, and vehemently expressed his opinions on the facts, opinions that in large part
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disparaged Mr. Libow’s character, stating, for example, that, while “Jessie James used a horse
and a six-gun to carry out his robberies, Mr. Libow uses a computer and the United States Mail
to carry out his.” He further claimed that Mr. Libow carried out said robberies on “less
sophisticated clients”; had a “total absence of ethics”; was guilty to “concocting a story and
filing a false police report”; “modified (forged)” email; was a pathological liar predisposed to
“wild accusations”; overbilled and used unlawful collections methods; abused the legal process;
was a “psychotic misfit” with a “psychotic agenda,” besides being a “creative, twisted, lying son
of a bitch.”
And there was more where that came from. The tenor of the extensive complaints would
naturally offend the sensibilities of members of the bar, lending them to think that the entire
profession was under attack – we have heard similar complaints about lawyers in general
throughout our history, some of them culminating in the revolutionary cry, “Kill the lawyers and
burn down the courthouses!”
Mr. Johnson’s complaints were not couched in an ingratiating or groveling tone, a tone that one
lady with years of experience with the Florida Bar says people should adopt to get things done:
“At all times your posture must be subservient, as if the bar staff is above you,” she said. But Mr.
Johnson does not want to hear about tones, and be presented with a tuning fork and sent off to
tone management class. As some rabbis have said, it is good to hate evil and act accordingly. The
very idea that he should play nice and kiss the asses of bureaucrats or anyone else for that matter
to get justice done deeply offends him and moves him to say unpleasant things about those who
would silence him when he has a valid complaint about their conduct.
No, Mr. Johnson was not about to be good dog and roll over for the Libows of the world,
presenting him with $100,000, which is a common denominator for a certain class of lawyers
when it comes to retainers and settlements – be sure to demand an itemized accounting
substantiated in every respect. Mr. Johnson’s animadverted resistance to the bittersweet end – the
defamation claims against him were dismissed but he is out $250,000 so far – was not part of
their equation; hopefully his adamancy will do the profession some good.
Mr. Johnson had already advanced around $9,000 to Libow & Muskat LLP for the Michelin v
Many case that was being handled for him by Ms. Becker at the Libow firm, but the firm then
demanded an additional $5,014. Mr. Johnson, incredulous, asked for an accounting. It was
determined that he had been charged $1,750 for a hearing that had never taken place because Ms.
Becker had failed to appear. The bill was further adjusted downward, and then fees of $2,086
were claimed. Yet when Mr. Libow called Mr. Johnson down from the roof he was repairing,
and tried to persuade him during that 41-minute conversation to leave the case with the firm, he
told him that he owed nothing. But when he was adamant in letting Ms. Becker continue to
represent him after she left the Libow firm, he got a bill for $1,621.90. An additional 397.57 was
tacked onto that for itemizing the invoice, at the rate of $200 per hour, a charge claimed as a debt
collection fee; but that amount, said to be merely illustrative when challenged, would be dropped
as not really owed. On August 4, 2004, a claim was filed in county small claims court for only
$1,621.90.
On October 11, 2004, just two months after Mr. Johnson had filed his complaint with the Florida
Bar, a “Proposal for Settlement” was tendered to him by Mr. Libow for a settlement of $100,000:
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“As a proposal for settlement, my wife and I will walk away for $100,000. Anything short of
that, and we will fully prosecute our case.”
Mr. Johnson complained that this offer in the context of events was an extortionate demand,
considering the charging lien was for only $1,621.90. Mr. Libow and his attorneys, particularly
his father-in-law Arthur W. Tifford, the mastermind of the defamation strategy, evidently had
something else in mind; to wit, putting Mr. Johnson’s ass in the sling over his complaint to the
Florida Bar.
The initial pretrial conference on the debt claim in small claims court was set for November 10,
2004. Two days prior, on November 8, 2004, the plaintiffs had moved the court for leave to
invoke the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure; according to Mr. Johnson, the plaintiffs did not
formally notice him as required. He would be put to serious disadvantage as a layman if he had
to abide by the same complicated rules professional lawyers follow. Other motions to invoke the
rules were denied. At the pretrial conference, the judge ordered the parties, over their objections,
into the mandatory mediation required by the small claims court.
Mediation proceedings are conducted off the record. On February 10, 2005, Mr. Johnson would
complain to Florida Bar investigators Lillian Archbold and Joel Klaits that Mr. Libow, in the
presence of the mediator, dropped the pleasant demeanor he had previously displayed before
Judge Jaffee; he leaned across the table and pointed his finger in Mr. Johnson’s face and
screamed: “I’m going to bury you! Do you hear me? I am going to bury your ass!” He later
recalled that, “As Libow spoke his threats, his face was blood red and his anger was so all
consuming that he could hardly get the words out and he spat and stuttered them. At that point it
would not have surprised me if he had levitated off the ground as his head spun around.”
After three failed attempts to invoke the civil rules of procedure, the plaintiffs motioned the court
for leave to amend their claim to include unspecified damages for defamation, upping the ante
beyond the $15,000 limit of the county small claims court so the case could be automatically
moved from the small claims court to the circuit court, where the complicated rules would
automatically apply. At a hearing before Judge Debra Moses Stephens on February 1, 2005, Eric
Stockel, representing Libow et al, alluded to defamatory email and an anonymous defamatory
letter allegedly sent to Allen Libow’s wife.
Attorney Stockel also mentioned the complaint Mr. Johnson had filed with The Florida Bar, a
complaint which, he said, “is permitted,” apparently acknowledging that complaints filed with
the Bar against attorneys are presumably absolutely privileged, i.e. the complainant is immune
from prosecution for defamation. However, he added, there were other recipients of complaints:
“Governor Jeb Bush, the Federal Trade Commission, and other areas where that was sent.” One
“other area” was the Florida Attorney General. Yet communications to the Governor, the Federal
Trade Commission, the Florida Attorney General and the like public officials and entities would
be protected as well, according to received law well known by attorneys. Indeed, the circuit court
in the Johnson case would invoke the common law rule that, “a citizen complaint directed to the
wrong governmental entity does not lose its privileged status.” The Florida circuit court cited
Imperial v. Drapeau, 716 A. 2d 244 (Ct. App. Md. 1998): “The ordinary citizen need not, at the
peril of defending a defamation action, sort through the complexities of governmental

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organization in a system of dual sovereigns, with county, municipal, and special taxing district
overlays on the State component….”
As a matter of fact, the Florida Bar rules that for a lawyer to merely threaten someone for
bringing a complaint against him with the Bar is an unethical act prejudicial to the administration
of justice. Nevertheless, the Libows and the Libow law firm would file and pursue the
defamation complaints with a vengeance until ultimately defeated in the circuit and appellate
courts. Mr. Johnson won in the end, but his expenses, which he has not yet recovered as of this
writing, were about $250,000. The Johnsons eventually, on January 24, 2011, filed suit against
the Libows and the Libow law firm for malicious prosecution and abuse of process, a case
pending as of this writing (February 12, 2012).
Judge Stephens referred to Plaintiff’s untimely motion to amend their claim to include
defamation as “strange” and possibly a “ruse” to gain for themselves the invocation of the
procedural rules that had been previously denied by both her and another judge in the case. She
said that, although she was not accusing the plaintiffs of “abuse of process,” their motion gave
her the distinct impression that they “may be abusing the process.” Of course that was precisely
what Mr. Stockel was doing on Mr. Libow’s behalf: perverting the process, and with malice. She
told Mr. Stockel that it was her job to make certain that that was not in fact the case; she would
need to see the evidence of defamation within 30 days, as a prerequisite to granting any motion
to amend and remove. Mr. Stockel persisted with his ruse:
MR. STOCKEL: Again, the general rules of pleading and its notice state, as Your
Honor is aware, you just need to present the allegations that the claim is being
brought in excess of the minimum jurisdictional requirements of that court,. In
this case it’s $15,000 for Circuit Court, exclusive of costs, interest, attorney’s
fees, et cetera. But the actual damages being sought, in this case for defamation
we’re seeking, you know, the damages thereto, the publication of that, the filing
of certain documents with both the Florida Bar which is permitted but Governor
Jeb Bush, the Federal Trade Commission, other areas where that was sent.
There’s been a mailing which we believe – plaintiff believes was from Mr.
Johnson directly to Mrs. Libow which we need to take discovery of which would
cause further damage to both the reputation that’s been published. And with
regard to moving it, Rule 1.170 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure state that
if a demand is exceeding the jurisdiction of the current court, transfer shall be
made, and I have a copy, Your Honor, if it makes it easier.
THE COURT: Thank you. And the reason I’m going over this with you so
carefully is because the last time we were here Mr. Johnson had filed a
counterclaim which claimed a jurisdictional amount that would have put it in the
Rules of Civil Procedure and he withdrew that jurisdictional amount because he
believed that if he went into – if they used the Rules of Civil Procedure that he
would be completely lost.
MR. STOCKEL: Okay.

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THE COURT: And so it seems strange that now we come back and have a – now
a lawsuit filed which in effect takes it into Circuit Court. I have to make very sure
that – and this is no reflection on you but just to state because the Court has to be
neutral I have to be sure that bringing this into Circuit Court is not just a ruse to
get where you want it to be prior to this.
MR. STOCKEL: I understand, and I anticipated Your Honor on questioning me
on that. Subsequent to that hearing in the meantime there have been several
correspondences back and forth via e-mail and regular mail. This is not a matter
of the record at this point in time, and I present it to Your Honor with the
acknowledgement that Mr. Johnson has not seen a copy of this document. We
believe this is a letter that Mr. Johnson prepared sent to Melissa Libow and would
support the evidence of the defamation claims. I can present it to Your Honor just
to get an idea of some of the information that’s going back and forth again.
Mr. Johnson denied he had sent the anonymous defamatory letter which Mr. Stockel had said
that Mr. Johnson had not seen – he probably meant that he had not yet given Mr. Johnson a copy
of the evidence he intended to present to the court. The judge wanted to see the supposedly
defamatory email, but Mr. Stockel said he did not have copies.
THE COURT: Mr. Johnson, it’s probably time to get you in on this. Did you send
a letter to Mrs. Libow?
MR. JOHNSON: No, Ma’am, I certainly did not.
THE COURT: You haven’t sent anything to her?
MR. JOHNSON: No, Ma’am, and if you’d like to swear me in, I’ll swear to it.
--MR. STOCKEL: The evidence will show eventually on the defamation claims
that many of the contents of this letter are similar, not verbatim, to emails that
were received from Mr. Johnson.
--MR. STOCKEL: I do not have a copy of those emails. They’re not necessary for
the filing of – and to be attached as exhibits to the complaint so they haven’t been
presented as evidence to the Court yet.
Then Mr. Johnson, attempting to point out to the court the nature of the malicious and
obstructive process he was being subjected to, said that Mr. Libow had accused him of a hate
crime and tried to get him arrested. Further, he said, Mr. Libow had associated him with the
January 2005 murderer of Mr. Libow’s babysitter, Shanette Jones, and her two daughters, Ashley
and Joanna Robinson; the girls’ step-father, who had attempted suicide, was suspected in the
shooting. The family had made a lot of money in real estate; Mr. Libow would represent
Shanette Jones’ parents in the wrongful death civil suit.
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Mr. Libow, in his email to Mr. Johnson, had said that he, Mr. Johnson, was “going down big
time.” Mr. Johnson was referring to the email he had received just the day before the February 1,
2005 hearing before Judge Stephens, from Allen H. Libow to his former partner Jaclyn Muskat
and David Johnson, with copies to attorneys in his firm and to Alexandra Tifford, the daughter of
Mr. Libow’s father-in-law, Arthur W. Tifford – the affluent attorney who would represent Mr.
Libow in the circuit and appellate courts and who was the mastermind of the prosecution of the
defamation case against the Johnsons. Mr. Libow evidently believed that Ms. Muskat and Mr.
Johnson had conspired against him; she would testify later that she had had no communications
whatsoever with Mr. Johnson.
From: allen h. libow, esq.
To: Jaclyn(AT)floridatitleandtrust.com ; David Johnson
Cc: Chad R. Laing ; stockel(AT)llmattorneys.com ; Jeffrey M. Glotzer ;
ali_tifford(AT)bellsouth.net ; William M. Shaheen
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2005 9:37 AM
Subject: Cease and Desist and Injunction
To the both of youOur babysitter and her two daughters were murdered late Saturday, early Sunday
in their home. The culprit is a man, who was our babysitter's husband. His
actions are very similar to those taken by Mr. David Johnson against me and my
family.
Ms. Muskat, I know, has been feeding this psychopath with information all about
my life, friends and family; probably including where I live, as Mr. Johnson took
it upon himself to send my wife an "anonymous" letter, filled with false cruelty.
We have contacted the police regarding same.
Within the next day, we will be contacted by the police for information. At that
juncture, we will tell them of the horror that the two of you have brought into our
home, and that protection will be necessary, as well as an investigation of you
both.
On the civil side, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Muskat, I will be amending our complaint
for permanent injunction, once again, and call up for emergency hearing, a motion
for restraining order. Ms. Muskat will be joined to that complaint. You two want
a legal battle, well you now have one.
I have tried to be conciliatory to you both. At this point, I, however, need to
protect my family from the likes of both of you. You said it, Mr. Johnson, I am
"going down big time" and, based on that statement, it is you who will be going
down "big time", only I will do it through both the civil and criminal legal system,
and not by nasty and defamatory letters to your wife.

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As for you, Ms. Muskat, you have aided and abetted to this psychopath's rage of
fear, that has been brought into my home. From here, I will personally take over
the suit against the Johnson's and add Ms. Muskat. There will be no more playing
games by you in the small claims court. Nor, will there be any more nonsense
coming from any of you to my office and home.
Ms. Muskat, there will also be no settlement of Simbabear. We will send you a
check for $10 and cause your redemption to be entered on the corporate books; it
is $10 more than your interest is worth due to it having no marketability. If you
wish to change that, you will need to file your arbitration complaint, pursuant to
contract.
If you need to contact someone, contact me. If you have a lawyer, have them
contact me. If you want to call the police, have them contact me. I will be happy
to entertain all of them to your treachery.
By those copied, do not speak with, nor contact in writing Ms. Muskat and Mr.
Johnson. I will take things from here.
Allen H. Libow, Esq.
After Mr. Johnson brought that letter up, Judge Stephens ordered him to desist from “insulting
people.” Then Mr. Johnson asked the judge how to stop Mr. Libow from sending him threatening
email, stating that he had received several email threats. She said he would have to make a
proper motion in circuit court for that.
MR. JOHNSON: …. I received an email yesterday – I received seven emails
yesterday from Allen Libow. Let me read you the first sentence of that email. It
says, “Our babysitter and her two daughters were murdered…. Actions are very
similar to those taken by Mr. Johnson…. Mr. Libow has some serious emotional
problems. Those were the –
THE COURT: Okay, Mr. Johnson.
MR. JOHNSON: The complaint filed with the Bar.
THE COURT: Mr. Johnson.
MR. JOHNSON: Yes, ma’am.
THE COURT: I really wish you would refrain from insulting people. We don’t –
the Court is not here to listen to that.
MR. JOHNSON: Ma’am.
THE COURT: Do you understand? If you think he has emotional problems, I’m
simply asking that you keep them to yourself. Okay?

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--MR. JOHNSON: Is there any way that the Court can stop Mr. Libow from
emailing me? He sent me seven threatening emails, yesterday, seven.
THE COURT: Mr. Johnson, you would have to file an appropriate motion for
that. Okay? There’s action that you can file if that’s what you wish with the
Court, and then it would be reviewed in time. But if you don’t file the appropriate
motions, there’s nothing this court can do about it. And I think the appropriate
motions would be in Circuit Court.
The Court may have been correct although unfair, for Mr. Johnson wanted to show that the
defamation claim was sheer bunk and part of a malicious scheme to pervert judicial process to a
“nefarious” end.
If the judge had allowed herself some latitude and had considered the behavior that Mr. Johnson
complained about, she might have reported it to the Florida Bar, where her word would no doubt
be considered more profound than Mr. Johnson’s, or at least her statement would have lent some
official credence to his complaint that the judicial process was being perverted. After all, Canon
3D – Disciplinary Responsibilities – of The Code of Judicial Conduct for the State of Florida,
which is rarely invoked, states that “(2) A judge who receives information or has actual
knowledge that substantial likelihood exists that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules
Regulating The Florida Bar shall take appropriate action.” The Commentary pertinent to that
clause reads, “Appropriate action may include direct communication with the judge or lawyer
who has committed the violation, other direct action if available, or reporting the violation to the
appropriate authority or other agency. If the conduct is minor, the Canon allows a judge to
address the problem solely by direct communication with the offender. A judge having
knowledge, however, that another judge has committed a violation of this Code that raises a
substantial question as to that other judge's fitness for office or has knowledge that a lawyer has
committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as
to the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, is required under
this Canon to inform the appropriate authority….”
But Judge Stephens was careful to show respect for her bar colleague before the bench although
raising “neutral” doubts as to his client’s motives in order to protect Mr. Johnson—the neutrality
Mr. Johnson praised her for in his communications with the Florida Bar. As laymen we may beg
to differ as to her motive; we cannot say for certain whether she was a person of good will or ill
will – Kant has said that only the will itself can be unconditionally good, only good intentions
count, wherefore moral worth cannot be judged by the unpredictable effects of its exercise.
If a layman had been elected to judge this case, he might have simply told the plaintiffs that, if
they had a defamation claim, then to go file it in circuit court and get whatever relief that could
be had for that there, leaving the small debt claim to be settled in county court where it was
originally lodged. In fact, after the debt claim was removed along with the spurious defamation
claim for unspecified damages to circuit court, the debt claim was remanded back to the county
court for a Kafkaesque process reminiscent of the famous absurdist’s The Trial. Wherefore the
court’s time and money and the defendant’s time and money had been wasted by the perversion
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of process to perpetrate fraud on the court. But procedures if not justice are a mystery to laymen,
so it is no wonder why one has to be a licensed lawyer nowadays to fill a judge’s skirts. As for
justice, the Greeks had Zeus proclaim, despite of and because of his own misdeeds, that every
sane adult should have a sense of justice, and those who do not should be put to death or
banished. Zeus himself was bound to fall. May people be outraged by injustice, and adequate
remedies obtained.
Judge Stephen’s order to produce evidence of defamation and to specify damages was not
complied with by the several Libow attorneys arrayed against Mr. Johnson, who was defending
himself. Instead, a memorandum of law was submitted stating that the court had no choice but
allow the claim to be amended; all that was required was to state that it was in excess of $15,000,
period. She regretfully agreed that she had to go along with the ruse on this technical ground, and
she granted the plaintiff’s motion to amend and remove it to the circuit court on the very day
(March 7, 2005) that is was supposed to go to trial. Upon the successful removal of the county
court case to the circuit court, all mention of the allegedly defamatory anonymous letter used to
get it into circuit court mysteriously vanished from the Libow’s pleadings.
Mr. Johnson was not about to let the Anonymous Defamatory Letter Ploy employed by the
Libows to up the ante to get the case removed to circuit court go unnoticed. He complained that
the letter, similar in some grammatical respects to letters the Libows had received over the years,
long before they were even aware of his existence, must have been sent by someone else or
fabricated by Mr. Libow. Mr. Libow would testify in a circuit court deposition that he never
actually said that Mr. Johnson had authored the anonymous, allegedly defamatory letter:
Q. Okay. Didn't you originally claim in this litigation that this letter was
authored by David Johnson?
A. I did not. I thought -- I didn't know what -- I -- I received it at about the
same time as the bar complaints came. And whoever sent it could have, if it
wasn't Mr. Johnson himself, could have made Mr. Johnson the most likely
suspect. So there could have been -- it's -Q. Mr. Libow, so I'm clear, have you ever accused Mr. Johnson of being the
author of this letter?
A. Actually no.
Q. Okay. Have you -- have you ever accused Jane Johnson of being the author
of this letter?
A. No.
Q. Okay. Have you ever accused David Johnson of being the person who
transmitted this letter?
A. No.
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Q. Okay. And this letter was received by you or by your wife?
A. By my wife.
Q. And did she open it or did you open it?
A. She opened it.
Mr. Libow would eventually name five former law partners as suspected sources of the
anonymous defamatory letters he had received over the past several years, long before he and
Mr. Johnson knew each other existed. As for the allegedly defamatory email referred to but not
produced in small claims court, Mr. Johnson believed that it must have been forged. One of the
counts of defamation in the lawsuit against him included his privileged statement to the Florida
Bar that he suspected Mr. Libow had forged email: “I suspect that it is possible if not probable
that Mr. Libow [Allen H. Libow] modified (forged) some of the emails in order to accomplish
the desired effect on his wife.” That is, Mr. Libow was suspected of frightening his wife into
insisting that he call the police on Mr. Johnson. The circuit court deemed Mr. Johnson’s
accusation, that evidence was forged, to be an actionable statement of fact, rather than just mere
opinion upon which no action for defamation could be pursued at trial.
As for the charges made to the police department, a fascinating exchange between Mr. Johnson
and Arthur W. Tifford took place between during Mr. Tifford’s inquisition of him on December
22, 2006. Mr. Johnson had stated that, ever since he had the initial 41-minute conversation with
Mr. Libow while fixing his roof, wherein Mr. Libow had flown into a rage when he learned Mr.
Johnson wanted her to keep the case with Ms. Becker when she left firm, and had castigated Ms.
Becker in the lewdest of terms, he had insisted on limiting and did limit all his communications
with Mr. Libow to writing, with the exception of one brief, 3-minute conversation with Mr.
Libow when he returned his phone call.
Mr. Tifford would have liked to have shown that Mr. Johnson was lying about confining all
communications to writing, and, further, that the 41-minute telephone conversation, which was
obviously not in writing, included threats that Mr. Libow would later on allege to the police; he
referred to that initial conversation, and implied via loaded questions that Mr. Johnson had
threatened the Libows in that conversation, although the subject matter had been whether or not
he would leave the case with the firm instead of letting Ms. Becker take it with her.
Q. So, it's your word against Mr. Libow as to whether or not you threatened him
and his wife and his children in that phone conversation.
A. He never made any allegation that I did.
Q. He didn't?
A. No.
Q. Well, what was that police report all about?

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A. He made the police report because he didn't realize they were going to ask
him for his documentation.
Q. Really?
A. Yes.
Q. In addition to self-education, are you also a clairvoyant, Mr. Johnson?
MR. PERRY: Objection as to form, argumentative.
A. No.
Q. The facts are--A. I'm not a proctologist either, Tifford, but I recognize an asshole when I see
one.
Q. Well, stop looking at me when you speak those words.
A. How apropos.
Q. Do you have anger issues, Mr. Johnson?
Mr. Johnson had not called Mr. Tifford an asshole; he was simply reciting one of those
wisecracks bandied about. But the termed stuck to Mr. Tifford as far as he was concerned. He
took it as a personal offense, and would later indignantly tell judges that Mr. Johnson had called
him an asshole. He must have thought that the vocalization had slandered every member of bar
and bench, as if an asshole were their common denominator.

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FROM THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF DAVID JOHNSON
by David Arthur Walters

FLORIDA BAR V. ECKERT – THOU SHALT NOT BLACKMAIL LITIGANTS

Blackmailer in frame from Hitchcock’s ‘Blackmail’

In The Florida Bar v James Daniel Eckert, File No. 2009-11,071 (6C), The Florida Bar averred
that Mr. Eckert had represented Jean Camposecco in post dissolution of marriage proceedings,
and that, while the case was pending, the opposing party, Robert Camposecco, filed an
Inquiry/Complaint form against the lawyer with The Florida Bar, which it received on March 4,
2009, alleging that Mr. Eckert had blackmailed him, and had personally called him at home
although he was represented by an attorney, one Phillip McLeod.
Mr. Camposecco withdrew the complaint on March 21, 2009, stating that, although he believed
Mr. Eckert was somewhat unethical, he did not believe he originated the “blackmail” suggestion,
attributing that to his ex-wife. On June 4, 2009, the Florida Bar advised Mr. Camposecco that the
file had been closed per his request.
However, on June 11, 2009, Mr. Camposecco asked that the withdrawn complaint be reopened,
saying he regretted having asked that the case be closed. He said he had done so because his
attorney, Mr. McLeod, had been upset that he had filed the Bar complaint against his fellow
attorney behind his back without telling him about it; consequently, Mr. McLeod resigned from
his case; but he wanted Mr. McLeod to stay with the case because he knew it so well, and he did

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not want to go to the expense of hiring another attorney. He still felt that Eckert was guilty of
“blackmail” and that the facts should come out.
“Blackmail” is an old term that once meant the evil rent (‘mail’) exacted by tribal chiefs in
Scotland in return for not pillaging farms; i.e., blackmail referred to protection money or bribes
extorted from people. Taxation is said to be the modern form of blackmail – fines and prison
sentences are exacted for failure to “voluntarily comply.” Blackmailers are despised by all but a
few libertarians who believe in absolutely free trade, and their fate in popular fiction can be far
more horrible than a slap on the wrist by the state bar association or a year in federal prison or a
few years in a state prison.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1929 ‘Blackmail’, a girl named Alice visits an artist’s studio and stabs him
to death when he tries to rape her. Her boyfriend Frank, a homicide detective assigned to the
case, finds one of her gloves at the scene, recognizes it, and while discussing the homicide with
her, Tracey, a petty thief who saw her at the artist’s studio, interrupts them with a blackmail
attempt, and Frank warns him that his blackmail attempt is doomed. The landlady then identifies
Tracey as the man she saw at the scene, so he is the chief suspect now. He flees and climbs up
the dome of the British Museum and falls to his death through a glass panel of the dome. The
symmetrical order of some of the spaces within the museum initially provided him with a sense
of control, but he soon lost it and panicked. Of particular interest to lawyers who blackmail
people is the scene in the angular library; all the books in the world will not save a miscreant
from chaos, no matter what defensive angle he takes.
Today anything of value besides money may be blackmail. For example, an interesting
discussion of blackmail takes place during the rape scene in the 1962 Cape Fear movie: the
convicted rapist Max Cady told the lawyer’s wife that, if she consented to his having his way
with her, then he would leave her daughter alone. “No, that’s not consent; it’s blackmail!” she
cried – she meant her consent would be coerced. Cady, an experienced jailhouse lawyer, would
naturally have a ready defense since there were no witnesses: “No, it’s not blackmail; you only
think I’m going after Nancy.” Alas for Cady that his self-taught law had always failed him; he
would not even appear in court in this case; instead, he found himself at the bottom of the river.
Now blackmail is a form of extortion variously defined by federal and state statutes, and may be
distinguished from extortion when it is said that blackmail involves a threat to commit an act that
is not independently illegal, such as revealing information about the commission of a crime:
Give me money or I'll tell the police what you did. Since the information is usually true, it is not
the revelation of the information that would be criminal, but demanding money to withhold it.
On the other hand, it may be said that “extortion” involves a threat to commit a violent act that is
independently illegal, such as inflicting physical injury: Give me money or I'll break your arm.
Blackmail or extortion is apparently a kind of stock in trade of the legal profession itself because
we often hear from litigants that officers of the court are blackmailing them, extorting money and
other advantages from them. They may not threaten physical violence, but they can otherwise
ruin lives.

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For example, in the case of Allen Libow v. David Johnson, Allen Libow, Esq. thought that it was
perfectly legal for a member of The Florida Bar to sue David Johnson and to allude to Cape Fear
unless he coughed up a $100,000 “sweet spot” settlement on a trumped-up claim of $1,621 for
legal fees. Mr. Johnson certainly believed he had received an extortionate threat when he
received email on October 11, 2004, from Mr. Libow in regards to the Libow law firm’s $1,621
small claims county court suit for legal fees:
“Mr. Johnson: Seeing that you never really had a lawyer and are representing
yourself and your wife, pro se, please provide me with available deposition
dates…. As a proposal for settlement, my wife and I will walk away for $100,000.
Anything short of that, and we will fully prosecute our case. We will amend our
complaint, and remove to the Circuit Court for all available relief and remedies….
For outside counsel, you may contact Arthur W. Tifford, Esq. or Alexandra L.
Tifford….”
To make matters worse, Johnson did not capitulate: instead, he filed a complaint with The
Florida Bar wherein he called the threat “extortion” and the lawyer a “miscreant” among other
things. Mr. Libow then sued Mr. Johnson for defamation, with the condonation of The Florida
Bar even though that sort of conduct is prohibited by the Bar, as we shall soon see from the
Eckert case. That he called Florida Bar investigators “bureaucratic asses” for sitting on his
complaint while its members abused him and his family did not help his cause.
Blackmail under Florida law is a felony, referred to indirectly by definition of “extortion” under
§836.05 Fla. Stat. (2010):
“Threats; extortion, - Whoever, either verbally or by a written or printed communication,
maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication
maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously
threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, or to impute
any deformity or lack of chastity to another, with intent thereby to extort money or any pecuniary
advantage whatsoever, or with intent to compel the person so threatened, or any other person, to
do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, shall be guilty of a felony of the
second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”
As for the Rules of Professional Conduct that lawyers are theoretically supposed to abide by, the
particular rule appertaining to the blackmail allegedly participated in by Mr. Eckert would be:
“RULE 4-3.4 FAIRNESS TO OPPOSING PARTY AND COUNSEL. A lawyer shall not…. (g)
present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an
advantage in a civil matter….”
The background for the blackmail accusation in Eckert was that Mr. Camposecco, during his
attempt to get his alimony payments reduced again or just terminated, said he had filed, on
February 23, 2009, a request for a domestic violence injunction (DVI) against his former wife
because she had threatened him. And then he was led to believe, by correspondence from his
lawyer, that she would, through her lawyer, a close associate of his own lawyer, reveal that he
had sent her email asking her to get illegal pills for him; that is, unless he withdrew his request
for a DVI. The evidence offered in support of that so-called blackmail, were as follows:
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In a letter dated February 25, 2009, Mr. McLeod authorized Mr. Eckert to call Mr. Camposecco
for certain information, but said that discussion about illegal pill email was off limits:
“You wished to take my client’s deposition but I also provided his telephone
number so you may discuss the case, his income and the DVI if you make an
appearance in it as I will not attend his deposition at this time. The additional
issues regarding their relationship, emails about pills, are off limits. If you need to
discuss any of that, then the deposition under oath is necessary.”
On the same day, via email to Mr. Camposecco, Mr. McLeod explained the
reference to the pills: “Bob, I did not put it in the letter but he claims unless you
drop the DVI she has numerous emails from you asked her to get you pills
illegally. Just FYI as I do not care nor does it deserve a response. See attached.”
The Devil’s Advocate might argue from this slight evidence that Mr. Camposecco had probable
cause to believe that he was being blackmailed, at least as that term is employed in common
parlance; the blackmailer, in order to gain some advantage, threatened to reveal something
untoward about him unless he did or did not do something. We may infer from Mr. McLeod’s
email that he did not consider the threat of revealing a request to obtain pills illegally much of a
menace; he apparently saw little cause for alarm or probability of harm to his client’s case if the
ex-wife and/or her attorney had revealed that request. Still, he must have perceived something
base or foul in the request since he did not consider it worthy of a response, and warned Mr.
Eckert the matter was off limits.
The threat, if actually made or participated in by Mr. Eckert was probably an idle one. Perhaps
he felt obliged to mention the wife’s alleged threat to Mr. McLeod. For all we know, that sort of
exchange may casually occur in the litigious trade, which engages itself in a great deal of
legalized blackmail – incidentally, complaints in lawsuits used to be called “libels” wherein
lawyers would throw the libels or books at people whether or not the accusations within them
were true.

Tampa Pill Mill 2010

Doctor House

Largo Drug Sweep 2009

If the claim about illegally getting pills were in fact true, then so what? Who knows, the ex-wife
herself might herself be implicated in uncomely behavior. We do not see the black-email on the
public record provided to us, so we can only speculate about its nature after getting a whiff of
blackmail.
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Would Doctor House be committing a crime by merely asking a colleague to illegally procure
some painkilling pills for him? In the case at hand, perhaps it was feared that if it could be shown
that the petitioner for reduction in alimony was spending $600 per month in obtaining drugs
illegally, the alimony should not be reduced accordingly. But what if the man, like Doctor
House, was in excruciating pain, and was getting licensed doctors in so-called pill mills to
prescribe them, doctors who had not been convicted of illegal drug distribution crimes? Then he
might claim a reduction in his income instead of an increase in his ex-wife’s income as
justification for a reduction of alimony.
Or a person might feel some shame of being exposed for taking illegally obtained pills in
Florida, although the state is known as Pill Popping Paradise. Would you let a surgeon operate
on you if you knew he was taking illegally obtained painkillers not only because he was addicted
to them but to make sure that his pain would not interfere with his control of the scalpel?
In any event, Mr. Camposecco’s sensitivity is not surprising in a milieu that family lawyers may
find normal but is unusually provocative, hostile and deeply offensive to the litigants themselves.
We can certainly understand why a lawyer or two might find allusions to blackmail distasteful.
Perhaps only an unsophisticated party would take the veiled threat seriously; Mr. McCleod, who
had a duty to tell his client about it, and even to report his colleague to the The Florida Bar, had
in effect told his client not to worry about it.
Mr. Eckert denied the “blackmail” charge. He said he had discussed the matter with his longtime
colleague Mr. McLeod, and he concurred that there had been no threats as claimed. He said he
certainly would not make such a threat to Mr. McLeod; after all, he had known him for decades,
had been employed by his father and even became a partner of his father.
It is reasonable to infer then that he knew such a threat would be unethical or criminal. Knowing
someone for a long time does not preclude one from engaging in unethical behavior; it may even
indispose one to report it as per “RULE 4-8.3 REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT
(a) Reporting Misconduct of Other Lawyers. A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has
committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as
to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the
appropriate professional authority.”
He said that he had conferred personally with Mr. Camposecco only at the request of Mr.
McLeod even though that was a procedure contrary to almost any case he had had in his career.
As a matter of fact, the Rules of Professional Conduct permitted the communication: “RULE 44.2 COMMUNICATION WITH PERSON REPRESENTED BY COUNSEL (a) In representing
a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the
lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the
consent of the other lawyer….”
He denied that he had had anything to do with Mr. McLeod’s withdrawal from the case; besides,
Mr. McLeod had taken that case to trial for Mr. Camposecco anyway.
In any case, Mr. Eckert was obviously deeply offended by the blackmail accusation. On June 24,
2009, in a letter to The Florida Bar, he objected to the reinstatement of a complaint that had been
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closed, and especially to the charge of blackmail which he claimed was defamatory. On July 9,
2009, he wrote a letter to Mr. Camposecco, threatening to sue him for defamation and damages
unless he withdrew his Bar complaint and issued a letter of apology within five days.
“You have filed a baseless complaint against me with the Florida Bar, charging
me, among other things, with bribery and extortion. This letter, then, is to put you
on notice, that unless you withdraw such charges, plus issue a letter of apology,
within 5 days from July 10, 2009, which is the statutory time, you will be sued for
defamation of character, among other matters, and you will be held responsible
for all damages. Please consult with an attorney of your own choosing about these
matters, but I hereby advise you that Mr. Phillip McLeod, Esq., will be called as a
witness by my attorney. Please be governed accordingly.”
It appears that Mr. Eckert may have intended his reference to “the statutory time” to appertain to
§836.07 Fla. Stat. under the main heading “Defamation; Libel; Threatening Letters and Similar
Offenses”:
“836.07 Notice condition precedent to prosecution for libel. – Notice condition
precedent to prosecution for libel. – Before any criminal action is brought for
publication, in a newspaper periodical, of a libel, the prosecutor shall at least 5
days before instituting such action serve notice in writing on defendant,
specifying the article and the statements therein which he or she alleges to be false
and defamatory.”
Defamation is a misdemeanor offense of the second degree under the criminal statute.
However, there is a way out:
“836.08 Correction, apology, or retraction by newspaper. – (1) If it appears upon
the trial that said article was published in good faith; that its falsity was due to an
honest mistake of the facts; that there were reasonable grounds for believing that
the statements in said article were true; and that, within the period of time
specified in subsection (2), a full and fair correction, apology, and retraction was
published in the same editions or corresponding issues of the newspaper or
periodical in which said article appeared, and in as conspicuous place and type as
was said original article, then any criminal proceeding charging libel based on an
article so retracted shall be discontinued and barred.”
Mr. Camposecco only published his complaint to The Florida Bar; it was not published in a
newspaper for which Mr. Camposecco was responsible, so it is difficult to understand why Mr.
Eckert would refer to an inapplicable statutory limit of five days as provided by the criminal
statute. In our lay opinion, a defamation action does not have to be based on a criminal statute,
but may be a tort action appertaining to an injury not due to a breach of contract, hence may be
brought as a civil suit, where the statute of limitation is far more than five days. There is a
similar reference to a 5-day period in Chapter 770 of the Florida Statutes (“Civil Actions for
Libel”), and that chapter is also very clearly limited to newspapers, radio and broadcast media.

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The Devil’s Advocate might argue that Mr. Eckert added to the blackmail originally alleged with
more blackmail; that he wished to imply that Mr. Camposecco had committed the crime of libel
or the tort of defamation, accusing him of such in order to get him to drop the complaint. But
then his demand, if maliciously made, might constitute an extortionate letter or blackmail
according to the same §836.05, which is punishable as a felony.
Mr. Camposecco was frightened by the threat: he withdrew his Bar complaint on July 13, 2009:
“Mr. Eckert, after further thought and consideration, I have decided not to pursue
my complaint against you with The Florida Bar. At this time of my life there are
much more important things to take care of and so little time left to do it all. So,
once again, consider this matter closed as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps you
should consider closing the debt matter against me as well.”
Nevertheless, on December 30, 2009, the Sixth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee found
probable cause for further disciplinary proceedings, that the Respondent had violated Florida
Bar: Rule 4-8.4(d), stating that a lawyer shall not engage in conduct in connection with the
practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. The probable misconduct was
stated as: “On or about July 9, 2009, Respondent wrote a letter to a complainant threatening to
sue him for defamation and damages unless he withdrew his Bar complaint and issued a letter of
apology within five days.”
Apparently no probable cause was found that “blackmail” or “extortion” or “bribery” had been
committed as originally alleged or that the personal contact with opposing counsel with Mr.
Camposecco was unethical. We find nothing on the public record provided to us actually
discussing and dismissing those charges. At this writing (May 3, 2011) The Florida Bar is
checking its files to see if part of the public file was not made available to us.
On December 11, 2010, Mr. Camposecco tendered a Conditional Guilty Plea. The referee in the
case recommended that Mr. Camposecco be found guilty, that he be publicly reprimanded and
pay $1,366.50 expenses in the case. On January 27, 2011, the Supreme Court approved the
uncontested referee's report and reprimanded Mr. Eckert.
So here we have, in The Florida Bar v. James Daniel Eckert, a finding of probable cause and a
guilty plea for an infraction that was not part of the original complaint but occurred during the
course of the investigation. Therefore it appears that the complaint as to this particular offense
was probably initiated orally by someone at the Florida Bar who was familiar with the leading
cases, Stone v. Rosen and Tobkin v. Jarboe, although the public bar record we have on hand
makes no mention of those cases or to the Florida common law expressed therein that complaints
to the Florida Bar about lawyer misconduct are absolutely privileged if not published elsewhere,
therefore the complainant is immune from defamation and/or malicious prosecution suits
whether his allegations are true or false. Given the Bar finding against Mr. Eckert, we suspected
that Bar counsel, at the behest of their director, who had written about this particular kind of
unethical behavior and was apprised of the Johnson case, had discriminated against Mr. Johnson
in his case, making it necessary for him to lay out nearly $250,000 to defend himself from
malicious prosecution and abusive process, and for his family to suffer a great deal of distress
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besides. Since Mr. Johnson had won his case and was suing Mr. Libow, we wondered whether he
also had grounds to sue The Florida Bar for a few million dollars.
When Karen Boroughs Lopez, the bar counsel or prosecutor in the Eckert case, and Kenneth
Marvin, Director of Lawyer Regulation, were asked who initiated the charge upon which the
guilty plea was had, they would only respond with a copy of Rule 3-7.4(c) under “Grievance
Committee Procedures” – “Investigation. A grievance committee is required to consider all
charges of misconduct forwarded to the committee by bar counsel whether based upon a written
complaint or not.” The record of our communication with Ms. Lopez is as follows:
WALTERS: I have reviewed the public record on the Eckert case, and see nothing
therein that would indicate who brought the particular charge on which Mr.
Eckert was found guilty i.e. of threatening Mr. Camposecco with a defamation
suit. Apparently no probable cause was found for charging Mr. Eckert for the
accusations brought by Mr. Camposecco, that of "blackmail" and that of
contacting him without benefit of counsel present. The threatening letter, you will
recall, came much later, after the case was reopened. Therefore, I am left
wondering if the Bar itself, under its own initiative, brought the charge for which
Mr. Eckert was disciplined, and if so, whom? Your good self? Mr. Marvin?
LOPEZ: Under the rules established by the Supreme Court (copy appears below,)
all matters are considered by the grievance committee. Those matters that result in
a probable cause finding are then brought before the Supreme Court via a
complaint process that is also outlined in The Florida Bar Rules Regulating The
Florida Bar. The Florida Bar becomes the complainant at that level, also per rule.
I hope this answers your questions. All of the Rules can be found on the Florida
Bar's website.
WALTERS: Yes I understand. My question is, in context of the discussion with
Mr. Marvin, as to who knows such threats of defamation-malicious prosecution
are barred? Mr. Eckert and his attorney with 80 years of experience between them
did not know. So who at the Bar knew and proposed the charge against Eckert? I
am writing a book about how the Bar ignored a horrendous case where the
complainant directly accused the lawyer in his complaint of this kind of implicitly
prohibited behavior, yet his complaint was purportedly dismissed because he was
rude because the Bar did nothing for months, even when latent death threats and
false police reports were added to the complaint. Further, my suggestion to add a
Rule barring lawyers from making defamation and/or malicious prosecution
threats have been ignored by the Bar and Supreme Court. I can tell you that many
lawyers know nothing of the common law prohibition. Given that neither the
raising nor the discussion of the issue appears anywhere on the Eckert file, it is a
fair question of WHO knew, WHO brought it up? That way I can give credit to
the person who knew, as this matter is becoming a matter of nationwide interest.
Thanks!
LOPEZ: I am not sure what you are asking. However, Mr. Camposecco filed the
complaint.
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WALTERS: Mr. Camposecco did not complain about letter threatening
defamation suit, at least not on the record. I am asking WHO at the Bar decided to
press that issue? Thanks.
LOPEZ: Bar counsel can send matters to the Grievance Committee and as per the
rules, the committee considers all matters even if the complainant does not
complain about a particular aspect of a case. There is an investigative process that
occurs and is conducted in each case. Each case is different as and unique, even if
at first brush, it might look the same. It can be confusing but when dealing with
human conduct there are many variables. I hope this helps.
WALTERS: Thank you. Do you recall when you yourself found out that
threatening Bar complainants with defamation and malicious prosecution is
against RULE 4-8.4(d)? Or that common law provides absolute privilege for Bar
complaints hence such threats would be unethical?”
LOPEZ: No.
I noticed that Mr. Eckert was admitted to the Bar in 1965, which gave me cause to wonder if he
was up to date on case law involving the defamation/malicious prosecution of persons who file
complaints against attorneys. In an April 25, 2011, email to Kenneth Marvin, whose name was
on the Eckert documents and who had sent out letters in the past citing and attaching copies of
the decision in Tobkin v Jarboe, I wondered if all attorneys had been advised on the
developments by way of continuing education, and why a specific Bar Rule had not been
promulgated on that point instead of reliance on a the prosecutor’s discretion of what prejudices
the administration of justice – a sort of catch-all rule – noting that my suggestions for such a rule
had been ignored. Threatening someone with a lawsuit for making a Bar complaint certainly
would seem to be “prejudicial to the administration of justice,” but it would seem that whatever
is definitely known to be prejudicial should be specified so all may know in advance what the
rule is. Otherwise, god-like discretion is afforded the prosecutor. By way of analogy, could a
criminal prosecutor charge someone with obstructing justice because s/he filed a complaint
against an officer of the court with the court’s disciplinary arm?
“How would all Florida attorneys know that complainants have absolute immunity in respect to
complaints filed against them?” I inquired of Mr. Marvin, and asked him for a copy of the Bar
file.
“Good question,” he responded. “How does anyone know what the law is? Yet, we are all
responsible to conform our conduct to the law's requirements.”
“When I was a kid,” I said, “the judge who made me wash police cars said that ignorance of the
law is no excuse. I wonder that so many laws are being passed every day that I must be breaking
some of them without knowing it.”

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“If you look at the volume of Florida Statutes it is overwhelming. I doubt that any citizen would
know 50% of what’s in there,” said Mr. Marvin – I believe the percentage would be more like
10%).
Once I had the Eckert file in hand, the first thing I laid eyes on were certain remarks made by the
attorney representing him in the case, one George M. Osborne. On August 1, 2010, in his answer
to the complaint against his client, he addressed Bar Counsel Karen B. Lopez and Kenneth
Marvin. He said he knew Eckert very well, that they were both graduated and admitted to the Bar
in 1965 and had practiced law a half block from each other for forty years. He said that Eckert
was a great lawyer, and cited his virtues at length. As for the immunity someone had against
being sued for defamation for filing a complaint with the Bar:
“I did not know of the immunity established in the case you kindly provided….
Jim is clear that he should not have written the letter. Had he known the rules it
would have been him delivering a retraction and apology despite having been
besmirched.”
Furthermore, in a September 1, 2010, letter to Karen Lopez:
“Do you give any credence to the points of my Answer, or do you think as a
matter of fact and law that not knowing about immunity and writing a letter
demanding a retraction of defamation and threatening suit for failure to retract
definitely and automatically and unqualifiedly subjects a lawyer to discipline? If
you do, there’s the rub, and I would like to know how you get to that conclusion. I
await your response with great interest – I am still open at this age to learn
something new…. I trust you understand I am hard pressed to think that the Court
expects a lawyer to be perfect. In 45 years at the Bar, neither of us ever heard of
this, never were exposed to it in required ethics CLE, and believe that this is true
for most attorneys.”
And we find this within the August 1, 2010 Answer to Complaint made by Mr. Osborne for Mr.
Eckert:
“…. the Inquiry/Complaint was false and wrongfully impugned Respondent's
integrity, and was withdrawn by him, Robert Camposecco, while the postdissolution matter was pending for reasons other than, are at least in addition to,
his receipt of the letter identified in paragraph 4 of the subject complaint. Further,
before he withdrew his Complaint, Mr. Camposecco was advised by The Florida
Bar in substance that he could not suffer civil liability for having made a
complaint, and he communicated this information to Respondent who accepted it
as true, and, of course, took no action against Camposecco although he did not
then know that unqualified immunity had been decided by The Supreme Court of
Florida. It submitted that it is fair to note that none of the 100 plus cases cited
under Rule 4-S.4(d) involve a holding that the "administration of justice" as used
and intended in the Rule is operative when an Inquiry/Complaint has been filed,
and your Respondent's undersigned attorney has found no case that establishes
such a Rule, and respectfully suggests that the plain meaning and intent of the
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Rule does not appear to include the concept that the administration of justice is at
work initially when an Inquiry/Complaint has been filed….
“….Respondent says further that had he known that unqualified immunity
protected even a wrong-headed or improperly motivated Inquiry/Complaint he
would never have even considered suit, much less written a demand for retraction
and apology…. Respondent denies any implication or inference that he knowingly
or with reckless indifference, indeed, with any indifference, took action that was
contrary to proper practice and inconsistent with the highest aspirations of the
profession. However, Respondent answers further that he certainly knows it is
fundamental that a lawyer should not threaten an action which he knows cannot
be effective as a matter of fact or of law, and, if as a matter of law the Court
determines that he should have known about the principle of unqualified
immunity, then he was not simply in error but would be in the wrong to send the
letter and if it is also determined that the Rule is operative at the stage of an
Inquiry/Complaint, then he is subject to discipline….
“…. Respondent regrets his ignorance of unqualified immunity, and wishes that
he knew it had been determined. He respectfully observes that he believes many
lawyers are not aware of it, and having served as chair of the Pinellas County
grievance committee for three years, and as a ten year member of a committee of
the St. Petersburg Bar Association to long ago deal with grievance matters,
respectfully relate that the idea and issue never arose. He believes the
Inquiry/Complaint was not only unjust, but was improperly motivated as a tactic
in his case and by his animosity toward his former wife and his aversion to
paying….”
Apparently Mr. Osborne was unaware of the fact that the complaint withdrawn by Mr.
Camposecco was reasserted by him and officially re-opened by The Florida Bar. We found no
answer to Mr. Osborne’s questions on the defamation subject put to Ms. Lopez, and we found no
exoneration of Mr. Eckert on the accusations of wrongful communication and blackmail, so we
presented this letter to The Florida Bar:

May 03, 2011
Kenneth Marvin
Director of Lawyer Regulation
Karen Boroughs Lopez
Bar Counsel
THE FLORIDA BAR
Re: Rule 4-3.4(g)
Florida Bar v. James Daniel Eckert (SC10-1308)
Florida Bar v. Knowles (SC09-403)
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Dear Counselors:
As you know, Robert Camposecco accused Mr. Eckert of two violations of the
Bar Rules in his complaint: blackmail, and wrongful communication with an
opposing lawyer’s client. However, neither of those accusations were addressed
and disposed of on the public record that was provided to me. Instead, counsel
initiated a third accusation and made it a charge; that Mr. Eckert, during the
course of the investigation, threatened to sue Mr. Camposecco for libel for
petitioning the Bar for redress of his two grievances. Mr. Eckert pled guilty to that
charge and was reprimanded.
It is obvious that the wrongful communication accusation was not an ethical
violation inasmuch as the Rules provide for communication with an opponent’s
client provided that his lawyer permits it, as the lawyer did in this case. Still, there
is nothing on the public record provided to me that exonerates Mr. Eckert in
regards to the complaint that he wrongfully communicated with Mr. Camposecco.
Of more serious concern is the blackmail charge, which I think should have been
pursued, based on the evidence presented by the complainant, according to Rule
4-3.4(g), A lawyer shall not…. (g) present, participate in presenting, or threaten to
present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter….”
As we see in Florida Bar v. Knowles, “the respondent was guilty of threatening to
present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter, conduct
which is expressly prohibited by Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-3.4(g). Such
misconduct by its very nature causes harm to the legal system. The respondent
was chargeable with knowledge of the rule prohibiting this misconduct.”
I suppose one might call the conduct prohibited a kind of “extortion” or
“blackmail.”
In Florida Bar v. James Daniel Eckert, the defendant and his attorney had never
heard of the prohibition against threatening Bar complainants with defamation
suits, nor was that behavior expressed barred by the catchall Rule barring conduct
“prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
In Eckert, there is no dispositive discussion of the blackmail issue on the public
record that I have obtained. Usually one would find on that record at least a letter
to the complainant stating that there was no probable cause to charge and try the
accused, along with the reasoning behind that decision. Since the “blackmail”
accusation is itself on the public record, and blackmail is a serious crime, I believe
that the accusation should not be dropped into the abyss without words
exonerating the accused; at least the public record should include a declaration
that there was no probable cause to bring the charge, and the reasoning behind
that decision should be provided.

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Coincidentally, the reasoning behind the common law foundation of the charge
Mr. Eckert pled guilty to is that, although baseless accusations against lawyers
may still damage their reputations when the cases against them are dismissed and
published, that is outweighed by the greater good of encouraging complainants to
come forward without fear of retaliation; innocent lawyers have some solace in
knowing that their exoneration is also published.
For all I know, the blackmail accusation may still be under investigation, or
perhaps The Florida Bar did not forward the entire public record to me as
represented. I certainly do not want to put this matter to bed thinking that the
prosecutorial power has in any way been arbitrarily or capriciously exercised. I
would rather believe that I am ignorant of the law and its processes and that my
sources are inadequate, or that some honest mistake has been made. It is to that
end that I pray for enlightenment and stand by for your response.
Sincerely,
David Arthur Walters
Journalist

Mr. Marvin advised us that Ms. Lopez had voluntarily left The Florida Bar and that he had sent
our letter to her supervisor to determine whether we are missing some of the public record. What
was purportedly the complete file was then forwarded to us. Some of the material previously sent
was not therein, and some of the material in the file had not been received previously. However,
the question remained, and was resubmitted to Mr. Marvin with a proposed answer:
WALTERS: Is this statement correct? A Florida Bar prosecutor does not have to
formally investigate accusations brought and provide a formal finding of no
probable cause on each one of them, but can simply ignore the original complaints
if s/he wishes and initiate and prosecute another complaint instead. So the public
record may have, for example, (blackmail) written all over it, with no declaration
that the accused was exonerated. The public is simply to construe the absence of
an investigation and charges on accusations as findings of no probable cause.
MARVIN: Please see the last section of the rule [below], however you should
note that this case was not dismissed and that it would be inaccurate for you to
think that because certain allegations of the complainant were not pursued that
means that the case was dismissed. You have no reason to state that bar counsel
ignored the original allegations. They were investigated and it was found that
there was insufficient evidence to proceed further. While I agree that it would
make a cleaner record if there were some documentation that the original
allegations were dismissed, it is also clear that the matter was sent to the
grievance committee on one rule violation and it is also clear that the complainant
was sent a copy of the formal complaint.

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Last Section of Rule 3-7.3 (d) Dismissal of Disciplinary Cases. Bar counsel may
dismiss disciplinary cases if, after complete investigation, bar counsel determines
that the facts show that the respondent did not violate the Rules Regulating The
Florida Bar. Dismissal by bar counsel shall not preclude further action or review
under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. Nothing in these rules shall preclude
bar counsel from obtaining the concurrence of the grievance committee chair on
the dismissal of a case or on dismissal of the case with issuance of a letter of
advice as described elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. If a
disciplinary case is dismissed, the complainant shall be notified of the dismissal
and shall be given the reasons therefor.
There we have it from the Director of Lawyer Regulation’s mouth: the case itself was not
dismissed because the complaint brought by The Florida Bar itself was pursued and resulted in a
guilty plea, and the complainant was sent a copy of that complaint. The original two accusations
brought by Mr. Camposecco were allegedly investigated and dismissed for lack of probable
cause, although there is no written record of the investigations and dismissals – to the best of our
knowledge, based on two versions of the public record, no letters advising that no probable cause
was found to bring charges on the first two accusations were issued as per the Rules. Of course
the record would be cleaner with documentation; that is, people interested in the conduct of The
Florida Bar and the regulation of the legal profession could get a clearer picture of what is going
on.
Mr. Marvin could not say exactly how many charges had been brought against attorneys for
threatening to sue or actually suing Florida Bar complainants for defamation or malicious
prosecution for bringing complaints against them. He said there is no code for that type of
offense, and that, from the “seat of his pants,” he could say that not many such complaints had
been made. According to George M. Osborne’s study, none had been made prior to the charge
brought against his client Mr. Eckert. If that is true, we may have a leading Florida Bar case in
The Florida Bar v. Eckert.
Requests to the Florida Bar and the Supreme Court of Florida to promulgate an actual Bar Rule
or to amend Rule 4-8.4(d) to expressly prohibit retaliatory SLAPP-like suits (Strategic Lawsuits
Against Public Participation) are routinely ignored. Further, the lawyer-packed Florida
legislature is prejudiced against any constitutional measure that might effectively restrain the
“inherent powers” of the “independent judiciary.” Any effort to transfer lawyer discipline to the
executive branch, as was done in the mother country recently, would be treasonous blasphemy.
The Florida Bar will merely state that defamation suits against those who lodge complaints
against its licensed attorneys may not be successful provided that the complainant does not
publish the complaint elsewhere – even so, the publication may be privileged since a Bar
complaint in Florida is a public record. That is, if you have the immediate means to defend
yourself, several hundred thousand dollars, against the malicious prosecution of suits, you may
not be “successfully” prosecuted for defamation.
Now, then, in the Eckert case, since we have no way of knowing from the file why the
prosecutor dismissed the original accusations, and the matter is left to the traditionally
revolutionary press because the establishment’s media is too cowardly to criticize the institution
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that protects it, we shall dismiss them ourselves; to wit: In respect to the allegedly improper
communications with an opponent’s clients: the communication was had with the consent of the
client’s lawyer, which is proper according to Rule 4-4.2(a). As for the allegation of blackmail i.e.
threatening to introduce a criminal matter to obtain advantage in a civil matter: although the
revelation of a request to obtain illegal pills may have been embarrassing if such a request were
actually made, such a request in itself may not constitute a crime; if the request to obtain illegal
pills were a criminal matter, the revelation of that matter in the civil case would be proper
because the criminal matter and the civil matter were related inasmuch as spending money on
illegal activities, which are presumably unnecessary since prohibited by law, would have a
bearing on the ability of the petitioner in the civil case to make alimony payments to his ex-wife.
The petitioner’s attorney properly limited any discussion of the illegal pills matter to the public
record, i.e. the deposition. Mr. Eckert denied that he intended to or did make an illegal threat. If
there were any extortion here, it is legalized by American Bar Association Opinion 92-363. The
ABA abjures extortion but would not carefully define it since that might unduly restrain the
extortionate trade.
##

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The Malicious Prosecution of David Johnson Series

WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT
by
David Arthur Walters

Updated June 18, 2012
A crucial petition for a writ of certiorari was filed on March 21, 2012, with Florida’s Fourth
District Court of Appeal, in a case of significant interest to the public because it bears on the
ability of lawyers to claim the protection of “litigation privilege” to absolutely abuse the legal
process to the disadvantage of their opponents as judges and bar regulators stand by and do
little or nothing to regulate the vicious free-for-all.
The petition was filed by the defendants in David and Jane Johnson’s suit against Allen and
Melissa Libow and the Libow law firm. The Libows have not been faring well in the lower court,
where their motions for summary judgment running into hundreds of pages including exhibits
have failed.
The Johnsons sued the Libows for maliciously initiating and prosecuting a defamation suit
against them in retaliation for Mr. Johnson’s filing of an absolutely privileged complaint,
submitted on his family stationery, against Allen Libow with the Florida Bar. Although Mrs.
Johnson did not sign the complaint letter, she was named because, Mr. Libow said, the
plaintiffs wanted to be legally able to seize her property no matter how it was held. Mr.
Johnson was naturally fighting mad of the fact that she was forced into the fray. On May 11,
2006, thirty-eight of the plaintiffs’ forty-one counts of defamation against both Jane and David
Johnson were dismissed by Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Mass upon a motion to dismiss
plaintiff's 5th amended complaint. At that juncture, the Johnsons had already expended in
excess of $100,000 to defend. That left three surviving counts against Mr. Johnson alone,
because they appertained to communications that were not on the family letterhead, which
would also be dismissed. The issue was tortuously prolonged by the plaintiffs’ appeals. The
dismissals were affirmed by the 4th District Court of Appeals. The financial burden then
exceeded $250,000 not to mention the emotional torment suffered all along by the “winners.”
Mr. Johnson accused the Florida Bar of “sitting on its bureaucratic ass” while over a half-dozen
attorneys associated with the Libow firm, along with legal mastermind Arthur W. Tifford, Mrs.
Libow’s affluent father, tormented his family in direct contradiction to Florida common law that
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renders persons who complain to governmental authorities immune from retaliatory
prosecution even though their complaints may be unfounded.
The Johnson’s filed their complaint for malicious prosecution, conspiracy, and abuse of process
against the Libows on January 24, 2011, with the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Palm Beach
County. Malicious prosecution is an abuse of the legal process because it is the initiation of
legal action without probable cause and with an ulterior or improper motive. Malice or ill will
may have been expressed or it may be implied from the lack of probable cause to commence
the action. The prosecution must fail for it to be malicious, therefore it is said that the
underlying suit must terminate in the defendant’s favor in order for a malicious prosecution suit
to be brought against the plaintiff.
But jurists drew a technical distinction between malicious prosecution and abuse of process
and made them two separate causes. An abuse of process may be malicious but it is one that
occurs after an action is commenced with probable cause; during the course of that proper
action some improper act is committed, improper inasmuch as it is unrelated to or outside of
the context of the underlying litigation. Therefore a successful suit for abuse of process does
not require proof of malice, lack of probable cause, or successful termination. It requires
impropriety. Whether the abuse is unrelated to the proceeding or not is a ticklish question,
leaving the courts to exercise minds over such cases as the one in which a hotel owner who had
sued an occupant for rent threatened to have a warrant issued for her arrest for disorderly
conduct if she did not pay the bill; she paid and sued him for abuse of process.
Judges interested in the finality of judicial decisions naturally grew weary of dealing with abuse
of process suits. Legal battles would never end if the parties were allowed to slug it out ad
infinitum, asserting that the other side did not play by the rules as they would have them
interpreted. Furthermore, the parties to lawsuits and their attorneys and others involved in the
cases would not be willing to speak freely or do anything at all if they could be sued for abuse of
process. Litigants and their champions must be privileged to act without fear of retaliation or
justice would not be served. Therefore we are blessed with what is called the litigation
privilege.
But that does not mean that there are no holds barred in court, at least not in theory. The
courts have rules and means to punish misbehaving parties and their attorneys, and attorneys
can always be referred to the appropriate regulatory agency for further discipline—the Florida
Bar has a rule against abuse of process, the violation of which is supposed to result in discipline.
Therefore a judicial attitude has developed that abuse of process suits are barred by the
litigation privilege, and that the traditional forms of abuse such as defaming an opponent in
court are absolutely privileged. That attitude has resulted in some laxity on the part of bench

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and bar. Of course privileges are bound to be abused in the heat of battle, especially by
attorneys who get away with abusive methods and are called ‘Rambo lawyers.’
Arthur W. Tifford is a clever, crusty and crafty lawyer who began his career as a special-courtmartial judge in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He refers capitally to himself on his website
as the “Judge Advocate General,” and advertises there his biggest wins, including default
judgments against nearly bankrupt fraudulent enterprises, and a major settlement of a personal
injury case. He served the public in Miami as an assistant district attorney after a brief stint as
instructor at the Naval Academy, and went on to defend major drug traffickers before taking up
white collar criminal cases when the drug money dried up as the courts became stringent in
their definition of civil rights for drug traffickers. He became a well known public figure when he
co-starred in the popular documentary, Square Groupers – The Godfathers of Ganja.
In the Johnson v. Libow case, his main defense on behalf of his son-and-law and daughter and
the Libow law firm is that they were engaged in a lawsuit in small claims court against the
Johnsons for $1,621 in legal fees, therefore bringing the defamation suit against them as a
counter claim was absolutely privileged by the so-called litigation privilege—the defamation
suit was naturally severed from the small claim case and was removed to the circuit court.
Mr. Johnson’s allegedly defamatory remarks in his Bar complaint related to his belief that Mr.
Libow was trying to shake him down for $100,000 to settle the small claim, or else. Infuriated,
he got the ‘or else,’ in part for complaining to the Florida Bar, for example, that “Mr.
Libow…knows that Jessie James used a horse and a six-gun to carry out his robberies. Mr.
Libow uses a computer and the United States Mail to carry out his.”
Mr. Tifford’s first line of defense to the malicious prosecution claim against his relatives and
their law business is that the prosecution was subject to the litigation privilege and that the
privilege is absolute, meaning that it is privileged no matter how abusive and malicious it might
have been. All is fair in love and war.
Circuit Court Judge Meenu Sasser shot Mr. Tifford’s argument down with a denial of his motion
for a summary judgment. We are not surprised, because it is plain to see from logic and law
that malicious prosecution is the one sort of abuse of process excepted from the litigation
privilege. Other abuses can hypothetically be remedied during the course of litigation by judges
and bar regulators, but there are no remedies for malicious prosecution until the action is
terminated in the defendant’s favor.
There is an analogy here with false arrest—actions for defamation per se for being falsely
accused of a crime, and for malicious prosecution of a civil action, arose from false arrest. A
sheriff may hate someone he arrests, express considerable malice towards him, and even have
some doubts about his or her guilt, but if the accused is tried and proven guilty and sent off to
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prison, a suit for malicious prosecution against the sheriff will fail. In other words, for a
malicious prosecution suit to succeed, the suit on which it is based must have been determined
in the defendant’s favor. In this we see at least part of the “infinite wisdom” of the courts in
distinguishing malicious prosecution from other abuses of process, and excepting it from the
litigation privilege.
But Mr. Tifford will not cotton to this ineluctable logic, which happens to be consistent with
public policy inasmuch as it protects the public from the abuse of power it might suffer at the
hands of officers of the court like him. In an attempt to put an end to the case forthwith, he
petitioned the appellate court for a writ of certiorari quashing the lower court’s denial of the
motion for summary judgment. It seems that either Mr. Tifford is confused by the law, or that
he is twisting it to his own ends. Although we as non-lawyers might fall for the confusion of
apples and oranges in calling them fruits, it would appear that reasonable lawyers would see
right through his petition for a writ and hold him responsible for the expenses of responding to
it. Still, we fear that the appellate court might itself be confused into making bad new law,
especially if prejudiced by Mr. Tifford’s Preliminary Statement to the appellate court, explicitly
referring to Mr. Johnson as a “vexatious litigator” who called the Florida Bar a “eunuch.”
‘PRELIMINARY STATEMENT: Petitioners, defendants below, seek recognition of their absolute
immunity for compulsory counterclaims filed in a pending judicial proceeding commenced
against them by the Respondents. Since 2003, Respondents/plaintiffs below, David Raymond
Johnson and Jane Johnson (collectively, "the Johnsons"), have continuously sued professionals
whom they engaged to perform services on their behalf. They have sued their former real
estate agent, their former attorneys and, regrettably, a non-lawyer. Their vexatious nature has
also extended to at least one judicial officer presiding over one of the cases in which they were
parties-litigant. Further, during the litigation which the Johnsons assert gave rise to their sole
surviving claim in the instant suit, the Johnsons, collectively, filed three Florida Bar complaints
against A. Libow and additional Bar complaints against A. Libow's attorney, all of which were
rejected by the Florida Bar. Moreover, during the disposition of the Johnsons' first specious Bar
complaint against A. Libow, Respondent, David Raymond Johnson accused Florida Bar counsel
of being “eunuchs.”’
The public record of this case demonstrates that Mr. Tifford resorts to the common Rambolitigator stratagem of so-called reversal, accusing the opponent of committing the acts he has
himself committed or was engaged in at the time, thereby projecting his own faults and/or
those of his client onto his victim, and excusing his own behavior as compulsory as if his arm
were being twisted behind his back by the law to engage in it. Another Rambo-strategy is to
ignore, twist, and fabricate facts, rewriting the history of a case as one goes along while burying

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the court in so much paper that it is virtually impossible to sort everything out unless one wants
to expend one’s entire life doing so.
The non-lawyer real estate agent whom Johnson “regrettably” sued was not Johnson’s real
estate agent, but was the real estate agent who interfered in a real estate transaction Johnson
was attempting to close. He referred the matter to an attorney working for the Libow law firm,
and the Libow attorney advised him to file suit, which is what law firms do. Indeed, Mr. Johnson
averred that the Libow firm had not only sued on behalf of its clients, but had regrettably sued
over eighty of its own clients and several of its own partners in order to shake them down for
settlements.
May heaven forbid professionals from being sued by non-professionals, especially if those
professionals are licensed to practice law and the suit is successful! The former attorneys sued
by Mr. Johnson include, of course, the Libow law firm, which he, by way of counterclaim in the
small debt court, accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Act. And Mr. Johnson had to sue
the attorney who won the defamation case for him because that attorney regrettably botched
the offer-and-settlement agreement for fees and costs. The mistake in wording of the
allocation of settlements was one that gives even pettifoggers nightmares over its sheer
pettiness, but Johnson was not about to suffer the consequences, and his attorney was induced
to settle for an undisclosed amount. Naturally, it would not be sinful for the Tifford-Libow
family to win their lawsuits.
Technically speaking, a “vexatious litigator” is someone who, in bad faith and without probable
cause, brings a legal action or institutes a proceeding to harass an opponent. In brief, a
vexatious litigator is a malicious litigator who may be sued for malicious prosecution if the
necessary precedents exist.
Throughout the underlying suits brought by the Libows against the Johnsons—one for the
$1,621 fee allegedly owed, the other for reporting Mr. Libow to the Florida Bar—Mr. Tifford,
apparently taking advantage of his understanding of the litigation privilege, defamed Mr.
Johnson as a sort of litigation terrorist with a criminal record, although Mr. Johnson had merely
exercised his legal rights and had never been arrested or convicted for felonious conduct. In
other words, Mr. Johnson was a terrorist and he was a freedom fighter. Now if this were a case
of the pot calling the kettle black, which it is not, the pot had the unfair advantage as an officer
of the court.
The public record shows that Mr. Tifford’s son-and-law, Mr. Libow, had demanded $100,000 to
settle the original $1,621 fee claim. He compared Mr. Johnson with the murderer of the Libow’s
babysitter and her two daughters. He filed a police report against Mr. Johnson for which no
action was taken due to lack of reasonable suspicion not to mention probable cause. And he
~5~

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
had, among other things, made an explicit reference to the movie Cape Fear, an email
communication that Mr. Johnson construed as an implied death threat. Yet when Mr. Johnson
would point out that Mr. Tifford had in fact himself been tried by a jury and convicted of a
felony, Mr. Tifford would express outrage and avoid the fact as if it were not true. For example,
during an ex parte hearing he managed to connive before Judge Donald W. Hafele, the small
claims court judge he complained Mr. Johnson had complained about, he inserted expressly
prohibited circuit court discovery onto the small claim court record and said:
“We've confronted this Circuit Court action almost to a disgusting level. And I would use that
word even if he was standing here facing me during this hearing. What he does is attacks
attorneys. He even attacked me three times during the first two sessions of his deposition,
calling me a—I'll use the abbreviation—AH, calling me a convicted felon, accusing me of being
in prison and having a cell mate, and on and on. I could only say that when I retired my
commission from the United States Marine Corp. I'm a Reserve, as a colonel, I didn't think
anybody at headquarters Marine Corp., during my 30 years with the Corp., ever thought I was
in prison and had a cell mate with a cell number, but that's another story for another day.”
As for Judge Hafele, we are loath to criticize a judge so honorable that convicts praised him for
their sentences, and we dismiss the politically motivated allegation against him by Tea Party
enthusiasts that he was appointed to the Circuit Court by Governor Crist to fix the Everglades
Land Deal case. But we shall criticize elsewhere, and in detail, the Rambo-litigation behavior of
Mr. Tifford, behavior that apparently prejudiced His Honor after the Zip Code Game was played
to get the small claim case assigned to him and dragged out after it was set for trial by a judge
who had ruled in Johnson’s favor. Judge Hafele, who said he had never seen the case before,
took Mr. Tifford’s word for everything in the Johnsons’ absence—they did not receive notice of
the hearing—and agreed that Mr. Johnson had perpetrated a fraud on the court by secretly
consulting with a bevy of lawyers while representing himself in the small claim case;
furthermore, said Hafele:
“I want to make sure that I did mention on the record, I find that the Defendants have engaged
in an apparent pattern of willful and contenatious (sic) conduct that has been designed to
frustrate the Plaintiffs and their counsel in their efforts to try to proceed and resolve this Small
Claims case. Again, the sheer volume, the number of attempts made, and the ultimate
resolution, as condensed in the motion that was made today, with respect to sanctions, are
efforts made after long and difficult proceedings that have been peppered with extensive
derogatory statements that are contained not only in the deposition transcripts, but also in the
pleadings themselves, that have been primarily engineered by the Defendants herein.”
Mr. Tifford, who is contentious by profession if not “contenatious” by nature, practically ran
over to the circuit court to inform it that Judge Hafele, who also handled criminal cases in the
~6~

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
county court, had declared the Johnsons to be fraudsters. That last-ditch tactic would cost the
Johnson’s $30,000 more in the defamation case in circuit court, where the Libows had already
had 38 of the defamation counts dismissed, leaving 3 counts, which would be dismissed
sometime after this further torment.
Now we can only hope that the appellate court is not swayed from the rational consideration of
the common law by Mr. Tifford’s characteristic character assassination, for if it agrees that
malicious prosecution is protected by litigation privilege, its doom will curse justice.
UPDATES:
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Writ of Certiorari was denied on the merits May 9, 2012
Plaintiffs’ May 23, 2012, Motion for Rehearing En Banc was denied June 18, 2012

~7~

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