Eric Garmon ~ 14th District Candidate for State Attorney ~ Makes Sense!

Eric Garmon, Republican Candidate for State Attorney in Florida’s 14th Judicial Circuit Court, discussed “selective prosecution”, the importance of prosecutorial overreach, the importance of the State Attorney in managing a “justice system” versus an “incarceration system” ( Join us and please share with friends and family.

Click the Image Above ☝️ to Watch the Video Now ?

~ OR ~

Click the Podcast Player Play Button Below ? to Listen Now ?

Eric Garmon ~ 14th District Candidate for State Attorney ~ Makes Sense!

Originally Recorded on February 15, 2024
Season 2, Episode 237

A Special Message from Gene Valentino

Verijet Gene and Maureen Valentino with their two dogs and Verijet
Gene & Maureen Valentino

ABOUT: GrassRoots TruthCast, created by former Escambia County, Florida Commissioner Gene Valentino, broadcasts weekly from Pensacola, Florida. Gene, an investment entrepreneur and avid aviator, is a founding member of VeriJet charter aviation and serves on the company’s Board of Directors. When he’s not in studio, Gene can usually be found in the skies over the Gulf of Mexico, piloting his ICON A5.

Doing “the right thing” is not always easy. It’s not always thought to be wise, most profitable, or popular. Doing the right thing has more to do with “COURAGE”; forged from the principles and beliefs given to you by your parents. There’s an ole’ saying I’ve adopted, “The Politician will tell you what you want to hear. The Leader will tell you what you need to know.” And, telling you what you need to know may not be popular”. So, my Accomplishments here do not show you things I’ve walked away from. As a result, I left A LOT of money on the table. However, God is good! He rewarded me with more wealth than I can speak of with a conscience that is pure and clear. I sleep well at night. I wish for you the same!”

Learn more about Gene Valentino by clicking here now.

Full Episode Transcript

Eric Garmon ~ 14th District Candidate for State Attorney ~ Makes Sense!

Carla Sands: Hey folks, Carla Sands here, putting in a plug for Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truthcast.

Narrator: With breaking news and political commentary from a public servant, serial entrepreneur, community leader, philanthropist, and American patriot, and a darn nice guy, it’s time for the Grassroots Truthcast and your host, Gene Valentino.

Gene Valentino: hi folks, Gene Valentino and welcome to another episode of Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truthcast. Glad you’re with us today. You know, we’ve tried to have guests and talent with us from all walks of life over the 150 episodes we’ve done here on Grassroots Truthcast.

Today, this week, we’re going to be featuring Eric Garman. He is the 14th District Circuit Court Candidate for State Attorney. Very interesting gentleman from the Bay County area, Panama City Beach. Welcome aboard, [00:01:00] Eric. Glad to have you with us. Hey Gene, good to be with you. Well, I thought we’d start, uh, on your background and then get into the whole history of the judicial system, your background, and of course, why you’re running for office.

Let’s do that right after this message.

Hello, I’m Mike Lindell, and I’m here to tell you about my new product from MyPillow. Towels that actually work. Watch this absorbency test. Here’s another towel that we randomly went out and bought. Here’s one of my towels with a nice design. I don’t know if you can see this, but you could line a swimming pool with this.

I mean, this is crazy. Get rid of it. Towels that actually work. What a concept. I’m interrupting this commercial to let you know you can get our six piece my towels regularly 69. 98 now only 29. 98 or you can save 25 percent on our brand new kitchen towels made with the same technology as our famous my towels.

Also we have bath sheets, bath [00:02:00] towels, washcloths, hand towels and so much more and the best part With your promo code, your entire order ships absolutely free. So go to MyPillow. com or call the number on your screen. Use that promo code to get deep discounts on all my towels. And for a limited time, your order ships absolutely free.

Gene Valentino: hi folks, and welcome back to our episode with Eric Garman. Eric’s from the Panama City Beach area. He’s a candidate, a Republican candidate in the 14th Circuit Court Judicial District of Florida’s 20 something judicial districts, uh, uh, circuit court districts throughout the state.

And, uh, Eric, welcome aboard. Uh, glad to have you with us. Yeah, thanks for having

Eric Garmon: me.

Gene Valentino: Talk to me about Eric Garman. Where’s Eric Garman coming from? Why you’d want to run for, uh, a state attorney in the judicial court system? Very interested in hearing your [00:03:00] background.

Eric Garmon: Sure. I mean, it’s like most things in my life.

It’s, it’s not something that I necessarily was always looking for, but it’s a calling that I heard and one that I knew I had to answer. Um, you know, as. As you’ve probably seen in my bio, but what I go into is, after high school, the towers got hit, and like many people my age in that area, or that era, um, I answered the call and I joined the Marine Corps.

When I got out of the Marine Corps, I wanted to continue serving my, my country, more specifically my local area, so I became a police officer. And when I became a police officer, I got to see the criminal justice system from the very beginning, the initial genesis. I got to see, you know, how really victims were affected and suspects were affected.

And just, I mean, from, from the grassroots level, if you will, uh, the, the very beginning. And I did that for quite a few years. Um, [00:04:00] after five years of active service, I decided that I wanted to serve my community in a different role and attend law school. So I did that. Uh, I continued to serve in a reserve officer capacity, so I still kept my thumb on the beat and a very active involvement in the criminal justice system.

And then after law school, um, I became an attorney and Over the years of being an attorney, um, I did things from, you know, not only doing some criminal defense work, but also, uh, one of my primary jobs for a while, I was defending officers federally in 1983 civil rights violation cases. So I got a real holistic look and approach at many different cases and many different aspects of the local criminal justice system.

Um, and then, as years went on, very similar to answering the call, not only to join the military, but, you know, be a police officer, I started seeing just a lot of [00:05:00] inefficiencies and a lot of injustice, and, and unfortunately, inefficiencies can lead to injustice, uh, passively, but, you know, also some active and Just like any other time, I saw a need and I said, well, uh, I believe that I’ve got not only the experience, but the determination, uh, to make sure this happens.

And, you know, regardless of who you are, I’ve been a police officer. No, no one is going to support the police officers and the first responders in our community more than I. But no one’s going to hold them accountable more than I. Um, so, you know, not just them, but the system as a whole. So when I see the system not working as though it should, and as though I know it can, and I’ve seen it function before, um, I have real no other option at that point but to do something to change it.

So that’s why I decided to run for state attorney. Do you have

Gene Valentino: to be an attorney to run, uh, to be able to be qualified to run for state attorney? You

Eric Garmon: do. And you [00:06:00] have to be an attorney for at least five years, uh, is, is the other requirement.

Gene Valentino: I remember some old history in Florida in particular, unlike other states, where some of the judges or prosecutorial positions in the state did not require you to go to law school or even pass the bar.

That’s kind of fallen by the wayside, I

Eric Garmon: take it. It has. I don’t remember exactly, but not too long ago, I’d say within the last five to ten years, our last judge that was not a lawyer, um, left the bench, to my knowledge, but, um, as far as, as far as I know, unless there’s some, uh, special administrative role, uh, to be an administrative or, or judge otherwise, you now have to be a lawyer, and, and rightfully so.

What caught my attention

Gene Valentino: is that you’re, you were intending to run for office for reasons very similar to why I ran for office. I was a former county commissioner from 2006 [00:07:00] to 2014, two terms. And my heart was, is and was in the right spot. I really wanted to do good for the community and promote some projects that I know had been, uh, waylaid over the years.

And, uh, I sense from you, especially since you were on the law enforcement side as an officer, first you saw it up close and personal. I agree with the premise of your point. You certainly saw it first hand, and as a, uh, a state attorney, you’re taking to heart those law enforcement officers representations of the facts in the case.

Yes? No?

Eric Garmon: Absolutely. I mean, you are taking to heart the representations, but it’s also extremely incumbent upon you and your duty. to make sure that you’re investigating those claims. Because the law enforcement officer is going to do the absolute best they can with, you know, split second decisions [00:08:00] and sometimes questionable information.

But, you know, as long as they can form probable cause to send it up, that’s fine and great. But where it really becomes an issue is The elected state attorney and all the assistant state attorneys that he employs, you take an oath as a state attorney, not only as a lawyer, but specifically as a state attorney, that you will investigate claims before you levy charges and before you file formal charges, saying that someone has committed a crime.

Uh, and unfortunately, you know, one of the many, again, one of the many issues is inefficiencies can lead to injustice. And this is one of the primary examples. Because once those formal charges have been filed, a lot different, uh, a lot different factors come into play, not only, uh, affecting your life, your liberties, and otherwise, but also affecting the court system, uh, and, you know, the involvement they have to have that sometimes they shouldn’t.

So, um, the, [00:09:00] The investigation should not stop when you go to jail. That’s when it really should start. And that’s when the state attorneys and their investigators should really make sure, okay, we’ve been given a charge. Somebody said that, you know, we believe that a crime has, uh, or is occurring. Um, and they were taken to jail.

Um, let’s, let’s look at that. I mean, and sometimes it can be just as simple as watching a video. I mean, you know, there’s so many times that we hear that cases end up being dismissed, you know, weeks and months and sometimes years later, when there was clear video evidence that could have been watched and formal charges never would have had to been filed.

And we can get into That, if you’d like, as far as, you know, that decision and how that really isn’t one of the most important decisions of the office.

Gene Valentino: I would like to come back to that and please interrupt me if I don’t. Um, but something you mentioned a minute ago, inefficiencies can lead to [00:10:00] injustice.

Um, you know, when I was running as well, um, There was what I affectionately, is affectionately referred to as the good old boy crowd in most communities. Every community seems to have it. They bring a new candidate, uh, up on deck along the way and next thing you know, uh, he’s got to go through the rites of Excuse me, the rites of passage to earn the respect and the confidence of some of those that have been there generations before you and me.

The point I’m making is that, um, sometimes that good old boy network doesn’t have justice first, it has me first. And, um, in that process, justice slips or wanes or doesn’t get, um, isn’t as the decisions to getting to a decision, uh, aren’t as pure and clear as you first thought they were. It seems to [00:11:00] be one of the shortcomings in our democratic constitutional republic.

What say you about that? I felt um, I felt where I had to be pushed to move in a direction that was uncomfortable for me in the past. How are you going to handle such a, such a, a push or a nudge?

Eric Garmon: I think to be a good leader and look at the end of the day, the state attorney is the top elected prosecutor of the judicial circuit, but they’re also they’re a leader.

I mean, just like the head of any organization and. I think one of the things that any good leader has to embrace is being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Um, and sometimes that can be, there could be a very good friend that you have, but at the end of the day, the levies, uh, the charges were levied, the evidence is either there or not.

It’s at least purported to be there. And again, you have to investigate that. So you either have to have the courage to, you know, [00:12:00] look that person in the eye and say, listen, we have a relationship. Um, and I hope that continues, but I have a job to do and I hope you can understand that, or if it’s too, too much of an issue to where you believe you might be compromised or there could be the appearance of being compromised, conflict it out, right?

That’s why we have a system that says, Hey, uh, we’re going to send this over to another, you know, area because there’s not going to be a personal toll taken there, but also there’s going to be, you know, a very clear look, factual look at whether there is a case or not a case. And what we see a lot of times is these cases being dropped that maybe there’s a legitimate reason for them being dropped, but maybe someone else should make that decision.

Maybe someone who’s Not closely tied to them or, you know, we live in small communities. I know you’re in the Pensacola area. Bay County is no different. Uh, everybody seems to know everybody, but, you know, somebody from a neutral [00:13:00] position, if they then say, look, we’ve looked at the evidence and the evidence is just not there, we’re not going to pursue this charge.

Though it may have the appearance of, well, you know, it’s just because of who this person is, the charge was dropped, when you have an impartial prosecutor making that decision, then you really remove a lot of that. And, uh, again, that’s Part of having a well founded intake process to identify these things, um, is, is extremely important.

But of course we see it. Of course we see it. And I mean, that’s again, one of the reasons that I’m running. I mean, it’s not just on the news, but you know, everybody that I’ve talked to, and I’ve talked to a lot of people since I’ve started running, everybody has a story. Um, and you know, sometimes these stories, they might not all facts, but a lot of times they have legitimate complaints.

And, you know, it’s, it’s a decision when you start getting the good ol boys, if you will, or the network, if you’re too closely tied to it, refer it out. But You need to have the courage to stand up and say, [00:14:00] this is my job, this is why I was elected, and we’re going forward with this.

Gene Valentino: Okay, now take those good principles you espoused just now, uh, in your drive for the, uh, state attorney’s job in the 14th Circuit, and apply that, copy and paste that principle to Ms.

Fannie Willis and what’s going on in New York City right now. You wanna draw a comparison?

Eric Garmon: Uh, Fannie Willis in Atlanta?

Gene Valentino: Uh, excuse me, Fannie Willis in Atlanta? Yes, indeed.

Eric Garmon: Prime example. I mean, that is a prime example. Again, uh, the special prosecutor, um, you know, it is espoused that he’s very well qualified, even though he’s got no felony experience, he’s got no organized crime experience, he was mostly in misdemeanors.

Um, it, it said that he was a judge, he really was, I think, a magistrate at the local city level. All those things aside, he still has been an attorney for a very long time. He very well may be qualified, but when you [00:15:00] have such a high level, uh, such a high profile case, and you know that you’re going to be under scrutiny Why introduce even the appearance of impropriety or the appearance.

You want a clean prosecution because part of our jobs as prosecutors or you know, the job that I’m vying to have is, is having a clean prosecution. Right? Why would we set up possible areas of appeal, possible areas to court, clog the courts? No matter how qualified that gentleman may be, with that personal relationship being there, I’m sure there are a multitude of other qualified individuals that just as well could carry that out.

So it’s exactly the same thing, right? And it’s exactly what should happen on the local level. Um, just because somebody’s qualified doesn’t mean that they are qualified holistically, uh, to prosecute the case. And what I mean by that is if you have Biases, either you know the person or you have longstanding [00:16:00] relationships, or your boss has longstanding relationships, whether you may be able to recognize that or not, there’s going to be certain pressures that there’s just no reason to have.

You remove those, and you have somebody from a different area come in, and that doesn’t mean everybody has biases, but I mean, at the end of the day, the ones that are clear and obvious, we should, we should do all that we can to remove those, and it’s actually our duty to do that.

Gene Valentino: Folks, we’re talking with Eric Garmin, running for state attorney in the 14th circuit court system.

We’re gonna ex uh, Eric, I’m gonna ask you to give us a little education on the court system in Florida. Uh, how, what’s, how’s it like, uh, or in comparison to the rest of the nation, but I know we have 20 circuit courts. In Florida, a certain number of appellate courts, and of course, every county’s got a county court system.

If you could help distinguish that for me, and uh, in a minute, I would. But what, what I’m concerned [00:17:00] about is, are these issues becoming more prevalent, the Fannie Willis story in Atlanta, uh, in terms of, um, Compromises to, uh, to justice, selective prosecution and, um, uh, and subversive or, uh, advantaged prosecution that, um, uh, you know, hurts one person but not another.

Uh, this, this, this balance issue that, that’s, uh, emblematic by your, your blinded, uh, judge carrying the scales. is representative of the notion that they are impartial. Whether it’s your mother or some stranger, it’s supposed to be impartial justice. And, uh, are we running more, are you noticing a pattern? I guess is what I’m saying.

Are you noticing a pattern of this going on more so today than two decades ago?[00:18:00]

Eric Garmon: It’s really difficult to answer that, and I will say it this way, the two decades or so that I’ve been involved since 2005 in law enforcement in one way or the other, um, things have changed a lot, the world’s changed a lot, um, but I think one of the things is with the advent of social media and with the advent of, you know, YouTube and all those, we’re just more aware So I can’t necessarily say that it’s any more prevalent now than it was before.

What I can tell you is that I definitely have noticed, uh, you know, not only through, you know, local coverage, national coverage, that it’s definitely more prevalent. And that’s one of the things that kind of piqued my, uh, interest of seeing how I could make a difference. Um, but I think that’s a hard historical question to answer because it’s, you know, the same thing with, with everything else.

It’s not, there’s no more, uh, terror going on in the world necessarily than there was [00:19:00] 20 years ago. It’s just hyped to our smartphones every day. Well, technology

Gene Valentino: flows. Yeah. Technology is certainly a factor. Social media, uh, the immediacy of communication, unlike even 20, 10 years ago, but I’m concerned about.

And it’s not just Bay County or Escambia County, Florida. I’m concerned about a selective prosecution overreach where the justice system is becoming too concerned about representing and protecting the party. that they support that’s in office, that, that term. What say you?

Eric Garmon: Well, I think we see it used both, uh, offensively and defensively.

Um, you know, the, regardless of what side you fall, um, like all the issues going on with Fannie Willis and all the other Trump cases. Um, and you look around and you say, well, you know, what happens to all these other people? And, [00:20:00] and it’s really more a two tiered system of justice. And I’ve told people at the end of the day, uh, If you want to rob a liquor store, don’t.

You know, take, you know, everybody’s pension fund from Ford. I mean, because you’re going to get somehow less prison for stealing 8 billion than you are for, you know, 20 at the, at the hop and rob. But it’s, it’s really more than that. It’s not only just differing penalties and, and, and them not making sense.

It’s, it is the way they’re enforced. And again, it’s, it’s really more the issue. Really, I think what you’re trying to address is that there’s a two tiered system of justice, okay? If you’re just a random average person, you’re going to get one result. And if you are an elected official, their cousin, their uncle, their brother, right?

You’re going to get a different result. And again, the problem also runs is when that elected state attorney or that appointed, depending on where you are, district attorney, When they start making it very [00:21:00] clearly known that there is a personal issue, um, that immediately they should be off the case and they should be off the case by their own admission, right?

They’re no longer able to impartially prosecute the case.

Gene Valentino: Yeah, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re opening Pandora’s box there because Special Prosecutor Err, who recently came out saying that even if Biden was guilty of wrongdoing criminally, he’s not able to serve. He’s not able to go to trial. He’s unable, uh, he’s incapacitated to such a degree that he’s unable to defend himself in trial.

And therefore I’m not going to charge him. Hillary Clinton got off her charges for slightly different reasons. Uh, but, uh, but in, in this case, this is the first time in history that, uh, a president, uh, has been denied, uh, criminal. investigation and prosecution because of his mental capacity. I thought that the defense [00:22:00] attorney was to bring up and defend, make that point as part of the defense, not that the prosecutor take it off the table and therefore I’m not charging him criminally in the first place.

Could that happen in your environment as state attorney?


Eric Garmon: uh, the short answer is no. Um, for a high profile case especially, um, it gets a little more difficult in some instances because many states are a grand jury state for most every crime. So Florida only uses grand juries when it’s a capital offense and death’s on the line. Otherwise, very much like a lot of the special prosecutors that just can really do anything that they’d like.

Um, Florida is an information state. Um, and the only thing that you need to do to level a formal charge, whether there’s a police report or not, because there’s also what’s called a direct information. is the prosecutor or [00:23:00] the assistant prosecutor is the sole arbiter, the sole arbiter of facts and the sole arbiter of justice, if you will.

And they say you are going to be formally charged with a felony, a misdemeanor, whatever it is. Um, so I think part of that is having a robust system on the front end to be able to have probable cause hearings, to be able to have reviews. Um, and unfortunately, what we see, and it’s not the assistant prosecutor’s fault, if you will, necessarily, it’s the system that they’re given and the rules they have to play by, but, uh, to give you a good, for instance, so, in the state of Florida, um, if you do not file an information within 40 days, um, 30 days in some circumstances, but 40 days, If they are incarcerated, then they say, well, if you’ve not found an information, then you must release this person from jail.

Um, and at the end of the day, many of these people live in the community, work in the community. They’re [00:24:00] not violent. It’s not, they’re not, you know, some of them are, but many of them are not even, uh, accused of a violent crime. Um, so, unfortunately, what we see here, and, you know, this is something easily shown by court filings, it’s, it’s not just my opinion, but, um, if you have, let’s say, 120 people that are going to be coming up on an arraignment date, you know, somewhere between the, the Friday before and the, you know, few days before, there’s going to be 120 informations filed.

And what we see a lot is, Days, hours, a week after that information is filed, um, when you actually look into the, the file, what already was there, what already was at their disposal, it’s like, oh, oh, wait, never mind. Either this is really not crime or it’s a different crime. But unfortunately, that person already has now been charged.

Okay. So, um, They kind of leave [00:25:00] themselves in a self created conundrum because there is actual legal significance to that information being filed, okay? So what would the alternative be? The alternative would be to release them on some form of a pretrial release program, have them report in like anybody else, and have them go back and be productive members of society.

Because I can tell you that Whether you’re lawfully charged, or whether you really have committed the crime or not, um, missing one to two months of rent payment, one to two months of truck, one to two months of insurance, your children are now being taken, all these things, um, it becomes not only very hard to defend yourself, but it becomes very hard to come back out and be a productive member of society.

Um, so it’s not the prison system, it’s the criminal justice system. So what we need to make sure is that Uh, look, I’m your absolute worst nightmare if you’re really a criminal, okay? If you’ve really harmed somebody, stolen something, you know, rape, murder. You, you will [00:26:00] find nobody, no person that will be harder on that person.

But we need to do it with facts, because otherwise, it’s, it’s a little more reminiscent of, you know, 1960s Russia. I mean, where it’s just, you know, you’ve done this, and I’ve said you’ve done it. I’m not gonna look into the facts. Um, but, so, so where we find ourselves is now you have a lot of people that have been charged with, formally, with a crime, and the reason that that’s an issue is, in Florida, again, it’s an information state, so the prosecutor decides either to file an information or not, so if the prosecutor were to look into that case, or the prosecutor’s investigator, somebody at the office, if they were to look into that case fully and make an informed decision, they can file what’s called a no information.

Okay, and maybe you need to get with, uh, the police officer and say, Hey, listen, I know that this looks like a crime, but, you know, this, either this case law or this element’s missing, we just, if we go to trial, we can’t prove the case. [00:27:00] I’m not saying that it happened or didn’t happen, but we can’t prove the case.

You can file a null information. There’s no harm, there’s no foul, there’s nothing to expunge, no formal charges were ever filed. The problem is, is once that information is filed, uh, through what’s called a null pros, You then have to get that expunged, even if you did nothing wrong, right? Even if it later comes to be proven that there was no probable cause and all those things.

The problem in Florida is you only get one of those per life, right? So if it is a mistake on the prosecutor’s side, or even sometimes not a mistake, I mean, you know, there are definitely areas where we can point to malicious prosecutions. Um, but Now all of a sudden you find yourself in the position that some governmental agency has made a mistake.

You clearly have been affected and somebody Googles you, you’re there, but also now to get that expunged off your record, um, you’ve got one shot at it. So it is a lot, a [00:28:00] long lasting effect. It’s more simple than just, oh, well, sorry, we got it wrong.

Gene Valentino: We’re talking with, uh, Eric Garman, running for, uh, state attorney in the 14th, uh, judicial circuit, uh, just next door to the first judicial circuit here in the Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okalo, uh, Okaloosa, Walton County areas.

Um, Eric, let me shift gears just a bit. I’m concerned about the person who’s maybe hasn’t had a civics class or a political science class or a history class. Understanding the scope of what’s going on in our judicial system. How about a little judicial class for a second? Uh, explain the 20 circuit districts, explain the 67 court, um, uh, court, uh, uh, districts.

Uh, and the appeals and the Supreme [00:29:00] Court. Can you take a minute to just describe that? Our judiciary in Florida. Go

Eric Garmon: for it. Sure. So, uh, Florida has 67 counties and each of those counties will have a, uh, county court. We don’t have municipal courts, uh, in Florida. We have county courts and they will handle everything from municipal or county violations of ordinance.

Um, small claims, um, uh, lower end on the civil claims, but and then on the criminal side, they’ll handle any misdemeanor crime at the county level, right? So, um, a misdemeanor can range anywhere from, you know, 60 days in jail to a year in jail. And the problem, uh, the problem, I would say the problem, but the problem with the county system.

is, uh, many, many times, um, it’s just, there’s just so many of those. So that’s, uh, I wouldn’t say a problem, but, but one of the [00:30:00] challenges at the county level can just be sheer volume. Um, it, it is a very, very busy court. Um, but again, the reason that it becomes a problem is, you know, if we have claims that are very clearly, uh, Um, get them out of there.

But not only that, when you find people being held in jail for 60 days for camping on the beach, right? Something that’s, I mean, I’m not going to say it’s a violation of the law, but. You’re clogging up that county court system, but also the county jail system. Um, it can be an issue. Um, but, uh, we’re kind of backtracking there.

I’ll try to stay on the, on the civics lesson. But, uh, that’s kind of one of the issues we’ll find in county court. But otherwise, county court is, is fairly straightforward, right? It’s, it’s going to be DUIs, trespass, things like that. Anytime that it’s a felony, uh, or a major crime, it gets elevated to circuit court.

And there are 20 [00:31:00] judicial circuits in the state of Florida. We’re the 14th. And it’s kind of weird. We’re in between the first and the second, but we were clearly created later and carved out. So we’re the 14th judicial circuit. Our particular circuit is six counties. Some circuits are only one county.

It’s really population based. Uh, so some state attorneys would be running to be over one county. Um, but in the 14th Judicial Circuit, it’s, uh, six. In the first, where you are, it’s four. Um, so our Judicial Circuit is Bay, Jackson, uh, Washington, Calhoun, Owens, and Guelph counties. So it’s a very large geographical area and a very large Where you can start getting into some, uh, some issues.

And you’ll even see this like in Walton County, where you are. Leuthenia Springs is a lot different community, uh, than South Walton. Um, and similarly, when you start getting these larger geographical areas, you can definitely run into some, some, some interesting challenges that you won’t if you just have one county.

But we’re then, [00:32:00] uh, 14th, uh, I’m sorry, 20 judicial circuits. So, after that, um, you would, you would go up to the District Courts of Appeal. Um, if you, if you have an, uh, an appeal you would go from your circuit to the District Courts of Appeal. Uh, we’ve got six of those now. And, uh, if it gets elevated or they can’t, can’t be decided there, then it would go to the Florida Supreme Court, um, and really past that, it’s kind of broken differently as well, where all local courts, um, so county courts, Probate, uh, criminal, anything like any local court, um, is under the purview and the jurisdiction of that judicial circuit.

So, uh, a little differently in the criminal system, the state attorney is the top prosecutor for all local courts. Even though we have an elected attorney general, the attorney general is really not a supervisor and has [00:33:00] no supervisory capacity in general. Um, so the local state attorney is actually a very important position because, I mean, basically right under the governor, if there’s a criminal matter, um, in some civil forfeiture matters, but if there’s generally a criminal matter, they’re going to be the, the primary decider.

Um, and then you have the attorney general who, within the state and within those judicial districts, um, They handle separate, different, um, things. Now, they will do a little bit of criminal. So, in general, they’re going to do, uh, you know, like Medicaid fraud, and a lot of the kind of more administrative things that can also lead to criminal.

Um, but, uh, there’s, within the Attorney General, there’s an office called the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor, and they will do some criminal work, um, and usually that’s gonna be when there’s more than one circuit involved, right? So if somebody commits a crime on the Walton

Gene Valentino: line [00:34:00] Yeah, and how do you distinguish, yeah, how do you distinguish that from where the federal judicial system steps in to determine if they have jurisdiction?

Eric Garmon: Well, the federal, the federal system is going to be, they’re gonna step in when there’s a referral and or, or when there’s information otherwise that would, you know, advise that there is a federal crime involved. Otherwise, even if it’s multi jurisdictional, as long as it’s within the state, That’s when, like, the officer of the statewide prosecutor would step in, because if it’s at the Bay County, Walton County line, and it kind of happens in two different areas, for instance, then it would be like, well, is this in the 14th or is this in the first?

And the answer is it’s in both, so just to make it a cleaner process, um, the statewide prosecutor can step in and say, well, I’ve got jurisdiction in both, um, and they could then take it. Um, there also are certain times, uh, when, you know, Depending on the district, they may be asked to come in to help for [00:35:00] special reasons, but typically it’s going to be Very minimal involvement at the local court level.

Now where, uh, where the attorney general is involved daily at the local level is the attorney general, their office handles the appeals. Okay, so if an appeal comes up from a local trial court decision, um, the state attorney here locally does not handle appeals to the DCA or the Supreme Court. That would be under the purview, even though it’s a local case, of the attorney general.

And they also have solicitors for the Supreme Court, um, and solicitors for, uh, you know, state issues going, uh, before the, the, the federal government as well. Okay.

Gene Valentino: As it pertains to your platform and who you are and why you’re running, how would you describe the justice system? Is it truly a justice system?

Or is it an incarceration system? What’s the difference and what, what are the benefits or shortcomings? And what do you plan [00:36:00] to remedy?

Eric Garmon: Well, I can tell you that, uh, what it is and what it should be. Um, I think right now it’s, it’s a system that is more focused on incarceration. In fact, my opponent, uh, when he goes around and talks to groups, he’s very commonly, um, cited with saying, well, listen, we’ve got one of the highest prison entrance rates in the state of Florida.

And I’m not sure that that’s a number to be proud of. I mean, look, if you’re doing your job, and, and again, the job is to process criminal claims, uh, prison is, of course, just one of the natural end goals of that, and there are certain people that deserve no place other to be, right? There are certain, unfortunately, there are certain people that just don’t belong in society, and they just, they can’t conform to society, and if they’re out in society, they’re either going to commit crimes against property or people.

But there’s a larger, a much larger swath in that of people who just made simple mistakes, um, [00:37:00] or, you know, they might be a drug user with multiple, you know, charges, but they’re not, they’re not selling drugs. They’re not bad people. Um, what we have to look at is, is what, what is justice? Um, and that is a hard decision that ends up being incumbent upon us.

And a good example of that is, for instance, like a veterans court or an alternative, uh, resolution court. Okay, saying, well, I know that you’re accused of a crime, but maybe, maybe we should focus on getting you better, okay, whether that’s, uh, what we call a therapeutic justice court, mental health court, there’s all kind of diversionary courts.

The problem is, is that they’re just really not favored and used. Um, for instance, we live in an area with two military bases, um, three if you include the Coast Guard base, but it’s kind of part and parcel to our Navy base, but we’ve got, A major operational, uh, Air Force base at Tyndall, and we have, uh, a very large, uh, [00:38:00] naval installation, uh, the Naval Coastal Systems Stations.

And we’ve got a lot of sailors, we’ve got a lot of airmen and marines that come through the area, but we also By that same metric, we have a lot of people who retire here, um, because, you know, Florida is not a bad place to retire. Not a whole lot of people are saying, Hey, honey, let’s, let’s, let’s retire to Montana.

I mean, that sounds good to me, but there are a lot of retirees here. Um, so a lot of military and veteran families choose to. And at any one time, let’s just call it a thousand people, it’s usually more than that, but if a thousand people are in the Bay County Jail, um, if you check the docket, uh, for Veterans Court, for instance, it’s gonna be somewhere between seven to twelve people.

You cannot tell me that only, you know, anywhere between half to one percent, depending on the docket, and depending on just the jail population, not including the people who are already out of jail and who’ve already been sentenced. For You [00:39:00] can’t tell me that it’s only 1%, but what we see in first appearance, you’re not asked if you’re a veteran.

There’s no intake process, okay? And this is, when I said earlier, inefficiency can lead to injustice, is part of the investigation that you need to do is, is there a mental health component here? Is there something that we really need to consider? Um, is there a better way to treat this? Right? Because if I can get a veteran in a veterans court program, then they’re going to be much better served because they’re going to have required therapy.

If they’ve got mental health issues, they’re going to have a lot more eyes on them to make sure that they, just more than regular probation, that they’re not only David Pasqualone, Remarkable People Podcast, Listen. Repeat. For Life!. Making the person more whole and you’re making them less [00:40:00] likely to offend, you’re protecting your community more.

But if you’re just flying by the seat of your pants and you’re not really doing any kind of an intake or any kind of a screening, how are you to even know? I mean, you know, some people will tell you they’re a veteran. Many veterans will not. Many veterans will not talk about their process. But, um, you know, right now at the current state attorney’s office, uh, all, all the intake is really done just by being assigned to a division.

But there’s no reason that there cannot be a prosecutor and a staff of investigators whose job it is to do an initial screening to be able to bring these to the other prosecutors because these, look, these prosecutors do a great job and they are extremely overworked and that’s one of the problems for really nationwide is the prosecutors being overworked.

I don’t care how, you know, intelligent you are and committed you are when you’ve got between four and six hundred cases. There’s just no way that you can do that alone.

Gene Valentino: I hear you. I hear yeah, I hear you saying, Eric, [00:41:00] that, um, you’re putting your thumb on the concerns of justice, but you’re using a sense of, um, balance.

You’re using parody and balance to vet the merits of the, of the, of the criminal wrongdoing and. First place said differently. There’s some cases you may never see as a state attorney because you had law enforcement officers under you doing a good job at vetting what was why that case should be coming to you, uh, versus why that case should not be coming to you.

And I think that. If I may be specific, that may be what distinguishes you from all opponents you have in your race here in the 14th Judicial Circuit. I’m concerned that sometimes just slamming a lot of people in jail is not justice. In fact, to the contrary, might it be that you talk about a recidivism plan, [00:42:00] incentives for them working in the community to work off time, saving some tax dollars in the process by It’s Clean up and, um, uh, labor or even a training program that, uh, gets them, um, gentrified back into the community with a degree in electrical, electrician or plumbing or welding and things like that.

So that at least when they do get out, they have a, a pathway in place that they certainly have no excuse not to get back on a good path. What do you say?

Eric Garmon: Yes, and that’s so, so one of the, one of the definite platform positions that I would have is it’s not just diversionary, um, of, hey, let’s have them pay a fine.

And, you know, we’re just, we’re not punishing them. It’s, we’re, we’re punishing them, but we’re making sure that the punishment also can further their lives the best that we can. And a good example of that, the Walton County Jail. Okay. Now, Just a short [00:43:00] aside on that, uh, we have one of the highest, in Bay County, we have one of the highest jail populations in the state, and I can tell you that it’s, it’s not matched to population, it’s matched again to there not being good screening, getting people, you know, either onto diversion programs or, or, or release programs, but, uh, people, we send, we spend about, I think it’s about two million dollars a year, uh, to Walton County for them to house our excess people.

And what I can tell you, talking to the inmates that come back from Walton County They are very upset. They’re like, no, please keep us over here. Cause in Walton County, you’re going to come out of jail with an operator license for heavy equipment or, you know, some kind, some kind of training, you’re going to come out with a very marketable skill.

Um, and when you have that marketable skill, you’re going to be able to both pay your fines that you’re owed, restitution that you’re owed. Um, but also you’re less likely to Again, commit crime if you need to do [00:44:00] that to feed your family or you feel that you need to when you have a very, uh, legitimate skill set now.

And, you know, uh, one of the things can be is looking at, again, we’re looking at nonviolent, you know, we’re not talking about career criminals, many times first or second offense. Well, let’s put them in a program where they, if they go to trade school, okay, if you commit, if it’s a nonviolent crime and you complete trade school and you know, you report in and you don’t have any issues, then we’ll have a divert prosecution where we’ll agree to drop that nonviolent crime because you now have decided to not only become a productive member of society, you’ve paid any restitution if you have, so if you stole something or something like that, uh, you’ve now paid that victim back and you now have a reason not to steal.

But, um, it’s, it’s, it’s all about, again, keeping the community safe. And if we make more productive members of society, it is going to make the larger community safe. [00:45:00] Of course, this would be with victim buy in, make sure there are not any special situations. I don’t think there should be blanket diversion the same way that I don’t think there should be, you know, blanket prosecution.

Um, so this is by no means, I’m not looking to prosecute. Yeah, I’m not, it’s not me saying I’m not looking to prosecute crimes. It’s me saying I’m looking to prevent crime. Uh, my job in, in, you know, the criminal justice system is not just to punish crime, but it is to prevent it. And if we’re giving people the keys, you know, to success, then again, All the more reason if they come back and they’re and they visit us again, well, they’re not not only they’re not going to qualify for that.

They’ve now shown us that, unfortunately, the less punitive, uh, rungs in the criminal justice system just they don’t respond to. So now we can feel better. Uh, about, you know, sending them for incarceration, because unfortunately, uh, you know, again, we’ve got extremely crowded jails and extremely crowded prisons, and if we can not only keep people out of there, but keep them out of there for, [00:46:00] for long periods of time, then it’s, it’s also just economically viable.

I mean, it, it, it, justice is, of course, the, the Constitution and civil liberties are, of course, always your main concern. But. Let’s be honest here. We’re government and right now things cost the most they ever have and you know, we’re wondering where money is going. Well, I can tell you where a lot of money goes and a lot of times it’s needless.

Hey folks, we’re

Gene Valentino: talking with Eric Garman. Running for State Attorney in the 14th Judicial Circuit Court System, uh, he’s a lifelong resident of District 14, specifically Panama City, Panama City Beach, uh, local resident there, well known in the community. Eric, in our last minute or two, throw us your pitch and your contact information.

How do voters who want to support Eric Garman

Eric Garmon: reach you? Sure, Garmin2024. com, that’s G A R M O N [00:47:00] 2024. com, you can find out more about me there, if you’d like to donate, you can do that there. We have all the resources you would need right there, I’m also on Facebook, um, but more importantly, reach out to me and, you know, especially if you’re here locally, um, I can’t do much if you’re in Georgia or elsewhere, but I’d love to sit down and meet with you, uh, I’d love to talk with you, because I really believe that the community experiences, um, help really mold what the community needs.

Um, and so everybody that I talk to, uh, you know, whether it’s one person at coffee or a hundred people, um, I, I will operate no differently when I’m the elected state attorney. Um, it, it is that elected official’s position to know what’s happening in the community, how it’s affecting the community, and not just to do it every four years.

Uh, to do it weekly and daily. So I really encourage you to reach out, I really encourage you to start a conversation. Ask me the hard questions. I prefer the hard questions, uh, because [00:48:00] those are typically the ones that need to be addressed and answered. You know,

Gene Valentino: those are the, those are the kind of things that need to happen in today’s voting process now more than ever.

What I’ve noticed in the hundreds of episodes I’ve done, um, uh, both as the guest and the host of various, uh, episodes. is a outreach by the community to want to learn more through this social media medium, which is a good point you distinguished in the beginning of the show, uh, that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

Uh, our social medium media fabric that we operate under now, uh, has nearly obsoleted the paper newspaper as we knew it. I used to be a paper boy, I can tell you that for sure. But, uh, but the fact of the matter is, is, Uh, a lot more people, uh, are stepping up to learn more. And you need to learn more. We need, we get what we deserve, right, Eric?

I mean, if they’re not gonna vote, or if they’re not spending time to look hard at who [00:49:00] they’re voting for. Uh, we get what we deserve, yes?

Eric Garmon: Yes, I mean, you know, the other thing I would say is, is if you’re looking around and you’re not, if you don’t like the way things are going, make a change. Uh, you know, get out there, ask me, um, I’m not a professional politician, spoken like a politician, of course.

But, uh, look, this is my first venture into this, and I can tell you that it’s, it’s challenging, but it’s worth every minute. Um, and if you want to see change, be the one to Starts it.

Gene Valentino: Eric Garmin. Thank you for joining us today on Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truth Cast. This has been a very enlightening one hour on, um, the judicial system of the state of Florida, the judiciary in the panhandle, and your run on the 14th judicial circuit as state attorney, uh, in the panhandle, or it’s been so great.

I, I’ve been so happy to have you here with us today. I hope the citizens do reach out and [00:50:00] contact you, your website again.

Eric Garmon: Uh, skarman2024. com. Thank you for

Gene Valentino: joining us today, Eric. Thank you. And thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being with us for another episode of Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truthcast.

See you soon for another exciting episode.

Thanks for joining us for Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truthcast. Be sure to like and subscribe and God bless America.

MyPillow Promo Code for up to 80 percent of your entire order GENEV Mike Lindell support America
Free promo code Gene4TWC Portrait Spike