Judge Silvernail sets August date for retirement | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com
J. Preston Silvernail will retire from the 18th Judicial Circuit Court in August …
He was a member of The Innocence Commission, a panel of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and academics created in 2010 by the Florida Supreme Court to study supsected wrongful convictions.
Silvernail, 65, was the judge who ordered specific DNA testing that eventually exonerated Wilton Dedge, who had been convicted of rape, aggravated battery and burglary and spent 22 years in prison.
Florida’s Innocence Commission was marketed to Floridians as emulating North Carolina’s panel, which had exonerated one innocent.
But Florida’s Innocence Commission didn’t emulate N.C. and “study suspected wrongful convictions.”
What Florida’s Innocence Commission studied – frivolously – was “preventing future wrongful convictions,” the sorry business of judges and attorneys attempting to put the blame for intact wrongful convictions where it doesn’t belong … on law enforcement.
Florida Today didn’t disclose that Wilton Dedge had already been DNA exonerated before Silvernail ordered additional DNA tests. According to the initial DNA tests, the hairs found on the victim’s sheets weren’t Wilton’s, or the victim’s.
According to the Silvernail-ordered DNA tests, the semen from the rape kit also wasn’t Wilton’s … just as the hair indicated it wouldn’t be.
Doubly-discredited dog handler John Preston was a key witness against Wilton, and so was admittedly coached jailhouse informant Clarence Zacke, who’d named his coaches to testify against both Wilton and Gerald Stano – prosecutors Chris White and John Dean Moxley, who is now a judge.
Zacke’s admission came in time to save Gerald from being executed, if Florida judges were on the up and up, which they haven’t been for decades, if ever, as the judges also had the sworn testimony of several Daytona officers that Gerald was a serial confessor, not a serial killer, confirmed by the sworn testimony of the first ghost writer Paul Crow hired to capitalize on framing Stano.
There wasn’t any forensic evidence against Gerald. All there was were lies. Gerald was fried alive in Old Sparky in 1998, and Wilton remained incarcerated until 2004, likely unaware that Zacke had come clean.
Preston had participated in Gerald’s case, too, publicly claiming to having coming a short distance away from tracking Gerald all the way to a homicide victim, tainting potential jurors.
Judge Preston Silvernail knew all of this and much more when he participated in Florida’s who-cares-about-innocence Innocence Commission.
And so did the Commission’s chairman, Judge Belvin Perry, of Casey Anthony notoriety. Perry hailed from the judicial circuit that had recommended phony John Preston to Silvernail’s judicial circuit. The Preston-tainted 2002 execution of hapless schizophrenic Linroy Bottoson – convicted in Perry’s circuit – was known to both.
Both Perry and Silvernail served as Chief Judges for their circuits. Both declined to do anything about the remaining Preston frame-ups, although both likely knew that Gary Bennett’s Preston frame-up had been transferred from Silvernail’s lawless circuit to Perry’s lawless circuit under Governor Crist, renewed by Governor Scott. (Gary is pictured below, with his mother and niece.)
This incurably-tainted transfer put Gary in the unclean hands of Jeff Ashton, also of Casey Anthony notoriety. Ashton’s team wasted no time in leveling the same baseless, lurid false accusation at Gary that they’d leveled at incarcerated death row innocent William “Tommy” Zeigler.
Silvernail served no more appropriately on the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Local Rules Advisory Committee or Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee than he did as a judge, a chief judge, or an Innocence Commission participant.
Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit therefore isn’t losing a “father figure,” per Florida Today‘s sappy closing sentence.
It’s instead losing a mutha … a mutha that doesn’t care that Gary Bennett has wrongly been behind behind bars for 29 years, and is just one of scores of those framed in the 18th. Only hopelessly criminal minds are content when innocents are behind bars and the actual criminals aren’t.
Silvernail was undeserving of wages from taxpayers for protecting his cronies ahead of citizens, and he’s undeserving of retirement benefits. Silvernail stood for nothing, and that’s what he should have; nothing. Not even his freedom.
Per emails I’ve posted previously, none of the above is outside of Governor Rick Scott’s knowledge, which betrays his signing the Timely Justice Act as a complicit act of cowardice.
Those emails were forwarded to the Justice Department, an agency far more concerned with the embarrassment of federal agents having used Preston than they are with remaining Preston frame-ups, likely because their embarrassment extends to a second charlatan, DNA-discredited dog handler – Keith Pikett – and perhaps others.
Preston and Pikett participated in over 3,000 criminal investigations, and they aren’t the only DNA-discredited dog handlers whose testimony affected trial outcomes.
The Innocence Project should be blogging about Preston Silvernail. They’re representing Gary Bennett. Sort of. They have yet to appropriately address the ex parte communications sent by Judge Moxley to Jeff Ashton.
Moxley had served as one of Gary’s initial prosecutors, and put Preston on the stand knowing that he had been discredited one year and a half before Gary’s trial, in the upsetting of Dale Sutton’s Ohio federal conviction.
Per the of-record description of his letters, Moxley didn’t want Gary’s evidence DNA-tested, so I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that Gary’s evidence showed up at Orchid Cellmark in untestable condition, although sealed … an escalation of William Dillon’s evidence showing up at the same facility two years earlier, unsealed.
William was framed in the 18th using Preston, too. But despite being unsealed, his evidence – the same age as Gary’s – was testable for DNA, which cleared and freed William. Prosecutors from the 18th Judicial Circuit have spent ridiculous amounts of time and money trying to re-implicate William.
The first to be exonerated from an 18th Judicial Circuit Preston frame-up was Juan Ramos, in 1987, and that is when every case Preston participated in should have been examined. For Ramos’ retrial, Judge Gilbert Goshorn skill-tested Preston and found he couldn’t track anything, which Silvernail has likely known for years, if not decades.
Gannett’s USA Today, sister publication to Florida Today, falsely claimed that all Preston convictions had been looked at, nationwide, in their July 19, 1994 article, “CONVICTED ON FALSE EVIDENCE? // False science often sways juries, judges.”
Virginia’s Stephen Epperly, along with Gary Bennett, would still beg to differ, and so would Wilton Dedge and William Dillon when the article went to press; they weren’t cleared for another 10 years and 14 years, respectively.
Mythical ethics and accomplishments, like those Florida Today bestowed upon Preston Silvernail, keep justice unavailable. It isn’t a newspaper, it’s a amusepaper, and the joke is on us.