SHERES SPEAKS

Press Release issued today by attorney Jason Blank, on behalf of Gary Sheres.  Though forceful in tone, it does not seem to suggest legal action is forthcoming at this time.  Howard Finkelstein’s response follows.

Several days ago, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein wrongfully terminated Gary Sheres, a highly-respected Assistant Public Defender. Mr. Finkelstein terminated Mr. Sheres for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech by expressing outrage and revulsion at the atrocious murder of three Israeli students and the celebration that followed. In this regard, Mr. Sheres commented from his personal Facebook account on a Facebook “friend’s” newsfeed. The subject article to which Mr. Sheres’s comments were directed, depicted people of all ages, including young children, reveling in the Israeli teenagers’ deaths with a symbolic three finger salute. The article can be found here: Palestinians Are Celebrating And Praising The Kidnapping Of Three Israeli Teens (Photos).

 
Mr. Sheres did not disparage people of Arabic or Islamic descent. Rather, he solely expressed disgust at the individuals responsible for the murders and those depicted in the article. The very same disgust shared by millions of Americans, Israelis and conscientious people worldwide over the barbaric acts. In a civilized world, no person can justify these atrocities.

 
Since wrongfully terminating Mr. Sheres, Mr. Finkelstein has taken this opportunity to inject ethnic discrimination where none existed. A mere 90 minutes after wrongfully terminating Mr. Sheres, Mr. Finkelstein held an office-wide meeting in which he publicly misconstrued Mr. Sheres’s comments before television cameras and reporters present at his request. In the nearly ten years that Mr. Sheres was employed at the Public Defender’s office, regular office-wide meetings were held; however, Mr. Finkelstein never invited the media to attend, record, and broadcast the meetings.

 
In the days that followed the meeting, Mr. Finkelstein publicly and blatantly lied when he stated that he offered Mr. Sheres the opportunity to apologize and Mr. Sheres rejected that offer. To the contrary, at Mr. Finkelstein’s suggestion, Mr. Sheres prepared a statement apologizing to anyone unintentionally offended by his Facebook comment directed at the atrocities in the article. Instead of assisting Mr. Sheres to disseminate the statement and avoid his comments being taken out of context, Mr. Finkelstein fired him. Then, Mr. Finkelstein embarked on a media campaign amounting to nothing less than a blatant attempt to mischaracterize and misstate the truth and justify his chilling of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Rather than focusing on his constitutional obligation to defend persons accused of criminal conduct, Mr. Finkelstein, along with C.A.I.R. regional director, Nezar Hamze, have spent the last week maligning Mr. Sheres’s good name. Note, C.A.I.R. – whom Mr. Finkelstein invited as his guest to the televised office meeting – is a controversial organization tied by several sources, including the F.B.I. and U.S. Department of Justice, to Hamas. Hamas, the very same organization responsible for raining rockets down on Israeli citizens, responsible for those specific murders condemned by Mr. Sheres, and classified by the United States and other nations as a terrorist organization. Not the type of group Mr. Finkelstein’s constituents would expect him to align with.

During his media campaign, Mr. Finkelstein has referred to Mr. Sheres’s comments as “hate speech.” Mr. Finkelstein’s misunderstanding and mischaracterization of “hate speech” is particularly disappointing given not only his position as a public official, but as a lawyer. “Hate speech” is the expression of hatred for a particular group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation and the like, particularly where such expression provokes or incites violence. Expressions of disgust directed specifically at those who celebrate the unjustified kidnapping and murder of children is not hate speech. To make matters worse, in an attempt to justify his improper response to Mr. Sheres’s comments, Mr. Finkelstein outrageously equated the comments to the rhetoric expressed in Nazi Germany leading to the genocide of tens of millions of people during the Holocaust. Such an appalling belittlement of one of the most horrific events in modern history, exhibits Mr. Finkelstein’s skewed perspective on the matter and desire to simply make headlines.

Residents of Broward County and the State of Florida must question the motives of a public official who generates controversy time and time again. For once, one would hope Mr. Finkelstein would face reality instead of the cameras.

Howard Finkelstein’s response:

There were no lies from me.  Mr. Sheres has yet to apologize to the Palestinian-American, Arab-American, and Muslim-American communities.  He sadly still thinks he did nothing wrong and won’t take responsibility for his actions.

 

63 thoughts on “SHERES SPEAKS”

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    I’ve never heard a more pathetic excuse for one attempting to shirk his personal responsibility in having made comments that have offended an entire race of people in my life. This failed attempt to somehow justify his original actions is not only poorly written but misstates in my opinion the intent with which Mr. Sheres made these offensive comments in his original rant on Facebook to begin with. If there was ever any respect due Mr. Sheres in the beginning with respect to his office tenure, it should be entirely absent now.

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    Where is Finkelstein’s apology to Broward County for a show of support for an organization linked to Hamas terrorists by the U.S. government at the same time Hamas is firing rockets at Israel? It looks like he didn’t bother looking at who he was getting into bed with. Where is his apology the families mourning the deaths of the Israeli teens? Maybe he should go back and read Sheres comment. It never said anything about Palestinian-Americans, Arab-Americans or Muslim-Americans. Is Finkelstein incapable of distinguishing between those groups and the people that were celebrating innocents’ deaths? It’s disgraceful.

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    Am I on a different planet? Am I the only one that read the Facebook comments made by Sheres? It seems as though people are only reading the vast media coverage as dictated by Howard. Howard has taken advantage of his ties with the media and framed the issue. He’s characterized Sheres as his friend and in the same sentence called him a racist. A mark that is likely to follow him his entire career. Let’s see things plainly, shall we?
    You needed to fire Raticoff, your friend since grade school. He’s nuts. He’s crazy. He’s also one of the few remaining death qualified attorneys in the office. But he’s unmistakably a loose cannon that shoots off at the mouth as well as does from the hip.
    Did you need to fire Sheres for his understandably incensed remark? The resounding answer is no and everyone believes he is merely collateral damage.
    Lets clarify Sheres’ hate speech. He clicked like on a post by crazy 8s Raticoff. His original comment was obviously directed toward the people with the 3 finger salute. Characterizing him as a racist based on that is like saying Howard is supportive of those and their alleged 3 finger salute. Too broad of a stroke?

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    Howard is rarely genuine or authentic. What a-hole stabs the backs of those who help him back on his feet?

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    What a crock of shit. How many of our Jewish colleagues over the past few days have said to us “well, they were telling the truth.” Their position in indefensible. It’s only genocide when Jewish people get killed.

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    Don’t know why Finkelstein waited even a few days. I would have fired them both on the spot when it was first discovered. Sheres and Raticoff both knew what they were doing and that it was very wrong. Both can now carry this tag around along with their big mouths and spend the rest of their careers attempting to explain themselves. However they attempt to do that will fall on deaf ears I’m sure because people understand where they were both coming from in their hate filled Facebook exchange.
    The only thing left for them to do now is figure out where they should disappear to.

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    WOW aren’t we all brave souls who spew our opinions and hate…However it takes a much stronger person than us to actually post like Sheres did using his name. Howard is a media whore. saw him yesterday in court house it was nice to see his head down. maybe he can fit into the door now

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    Just how dumb is this Sheres? Pretty feeble explanation for a pretty stupid blunder. He’s just bringing more attention to himself after making an ass out of himself. The other guy’s excuse about somebody hacking into his facebook is even more believable than that offered by Sheres and his attorney, but just as stupid an excuse for some really nasty remarks about a people that neither one of them know much about obviously. Typical arrogance from a pair of hasbeens that are now in rehab mode. The stupid spin offered this time is just as hollow and arrogant as the remarks both exchanged on facebook. There is simply no excuse for this kind of behavior and both of them know it.

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    It keeps getting worse. You’d think after getting caught ranting on Facebook these idiots would call it quits. They must be even dumber than you’d think.

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    Interesting development. My only question is where is this prepared letter of apology by Mr. Sheres that is alledged to have been presented to Mr. Finkelstein prior to Sheres’ dismissal??? Interesting neither Sheres or his attorney has coughed up the goods! It’s transparent to me the game is without much credibility at this point.

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    Rather than focusing on his constitutional obligation to defend persons accused of criminal conduct, Mr. Finkelstein, along with C.A.I.R. regional director, Nezar Hamze, have spent the last week maligning Mr. Sheres’s good name. Note, C.A.I.R. – whom Mr. Finkelstein invited as his guest to the televised office meeting – is a controversial organization tied by several sources, including the F.B.I. and U.S. Department of Justice, to Hamas. Hamas, the very same organization responsible for raining rockets down on Israeli citizens, responsible for those specific murders condemned by Mr. Sheres, and classified by the United States and other nations as a terrorist organization. Not the type of group Mr. Finkelstein’s constituents would expect him to align with.
    http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-07-16/news/sfl-facebooking-public-defender-says-he-tried-to-apologize-got-fired-by-grandstanding-finkelstein-20140716_1_assistant-public-defender-facebook-comment-free-speech

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    Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Instead of facing up to a bad mistake of judgment, you get something like this?

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    It’s sounds like more of a personal vendetta against their employer than anything else. I applaud Mr. Finkelstein’s actions for facing a serious problem that he certainly didn’t ask for and dealing with it in an admirable fashion. I can’t see that there was really any other option for a problem he was burdened with due to no fault of his own. I hope this unfortunate situation serves as an example to others who would say these kinds of things and think they were going to worm their way out of it. Totally unacceptable.

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    This isn’t Howard Finkelstein’s fault and I don’t believe either of the two lawyers involved. Their excuses for their behavior just don’t hold up. And now they are attempting to blame Howard Finkelstein? Just goes to show you that they don’t know when to stop pushing the envelope which is what got them into trouble to begin with.

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    “Mr. Sheres has yet to apologize to the Palestinian-American, Arab-American, and Muslim-American communities. He sadly still thinks he did nothing wrong and won’t take responsibility for his actions.”

    So using that logic, I guess APDs will no longer object and will waive appellate review when, after a jury verdict of guilty, the State tells the court at sentencing: “This Defendant has yet to apologize to the victim. He sadly thinks he did nothing wrong and won’t take responsibility for his actions. The State asks for the maximum penalty based on these factors.”

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    It’s fairly easy to see between the lines that both APDs sadly thought they were immune to any action that might have been seen by any reasonable person to have been consequences attached to their wrongful and thoughtless comments.

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    What letter of apology by Scheres? Has it been posted? Blank sure doesn’t sound apologetic in his ridiculous letter. It just sounds unbelievably stupid and doesn’t address the real issue anyway. What they did on facebook has nothing to do with the problems in the Middle East.

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    How can a defense attorney appear to condemn such carnage–isn’t he supposed to guarantee everybody gets a fair trial and a zealous defense. This is the kind of demonstration I would expect of Satz–where nobody gets a fair trial and it’s up to such defense attorneys to catch and expose team Satz’s cheating. What would his opening statement be if he was assigned the case?

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    Would someone who knows Mr. Blank please inform him that one can not be of Islamic descent. Islam is one of three great religions and transcends ethnic boundaries. His ignorance of subject is equally astounding.

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    LOL. BLANK AND SCHERES SHOULD GO INTO PRIVATE PRACTICE TOGETHER. THEY BOTH SOUND PRETTY DUMB SO THEY MIGHT MAKE A REAL GO OF IT. WASN’T BLANK AN ASSISTANT PD AND DIDN’T HE LEAVE AN UNHAPPY CAMPER AS WELL? INTERESTING GROUP OF CRIERS SHARING SOME EQUALLY INTERESTING CIRCUMSTANCES IN COMMON. FIND HIS LETTER APPROACHING ALMOST MORONIC IN DEFENCE OF SHERES AS IF THERE COULD BE ANY DEFENCE OF SUCH ACTIONS. IT WOULD BE COMMICAL IF IT WEREN’T SO SAD.

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    Poor Jason, Howard let him run his mouth and puff out his chest while a pd then Jason got to big for his britches and Howard reminded him there is one star at the pd office, no co stars only supporting players. Now Jason shoots at windmills hoping people remember his name

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    “Islamic decent” – I didn’t even catch that. Fucking classic! Also, trying to connect Finkelstein and Hamas. This is getting good! ***grabs popcorn***

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    I’ve never had any dealings with Jason Blank, but I sure hope he’s a better attorney than he is a writer. It’s one big GRIPE letter with absolutely no substance. Sheres must have picked him out of the buy one get two free basket.

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    Which nation(s) fund Palestinian-American, Arab-American, and Muslim-American community mosks?

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    I can’t believe how many people agree with these firings. People should be allowed them to speak what they feel.
    Their actions (or words) in no way showed they could not do the job which they were hired to do.
    They were not representing the PD’s office when they made their posts.
    Talk about a chilling effect on speech. Yes, there are consequences to speech – but what does their speech have to do with their job performance.
    And why should anyone ever have to apologize for something when they don’t think they were wrong?

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    Where is Finkelstein’s apolige?
    “Mr. Finkelstein outrageously equated the comments to the rhetoric expressed in Nazi Germany leading to the genocide of tens of millions of people during the Holocaust. Such an appalling belittlement of one of the most horrific events in modern history, exhibits Mr. Finkelstein’s skewed perspective on the matter and desire to simply make headlines”.

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    Sheres and Raticoff should be embarrassed for what they did. Instead you have a complete embecile preparing a response letter filled with more of the same kind of rants while the two involved still don’t accept responsibility for their wrong actions. They probably would still be employed if they had just apologized and accepted personal responsibility for their actions instead of attempting to defend themselves with a bunch of explanations that don’t make sense. I really can’t see that Finkelstein could have done anything but fire them both under these circumstances.

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    For someone who was apparently amenable by his attorney’s words to offering an apology for his actions to Mr. Finkelstein when called to be accountable, this letter by his attorney Mr. Blank certainly doesn’t sound very apologetic in either its tone or content. More like sour grapes.

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    So Brian Reedy can make gay jokes about someone in a case and get nothing and these guys get fired? Guess its all about who you know and who you blo….

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      Sheres should have been offered the same punishment as Brian Reidy: issue an apology at an office meeting, be docked two weeks of vacation, and attend sensitivity training. I never saw Reidy apologize to the gay community. By firing Sheres and not Reidy, Help Me Howard proves yet again that he will always whore himself out for the media. Nepotism is the name of the game at the Broward PD. Were the anti-gay comments made by Reidy less offensive than Sheres’ comments? Or are gay people just less important to Help me Howard? I think the answer is that Sheres is just a casualty of war in Help Me Howard’s media blitz.

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    everyone should be outraged…..at islam. this is a religion that teaches hate from birth…hate for all people who are not followers. They hate Christians, Jews, Buddists , and anyone else who does not believe in the fairy tale book , the Koran. And in America, we have a RIGHT to say so and the more vile the more protected the speech is. We allow Nazis to speak with no problem, but when you complain about islam, well….. your a racist. If you don’t like the speech, please go home to your individual repressive regimes and live there. If you want to live in America, we get to complain about you and your religion and you get to take it. Don’t like it ? Well to f***ing bad
    Once again protected speech.

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    I know Bruce Raticoff, I don’t really know Sheres though I have seen him in court and he seemed like a pretty level headed guy. I don’t think a government entity should be in the business of policing someone’s private speech. Even if you agree that Howard should have taken some action don’t you think firing is a little extreme when a suspension or letter of reprimand could have probably achieved the same result ie speaking out against supposed hate speech. I just think Howard wanted to make this all about Howard. I think they should sue him. he clearly didn’t employ the least restrictive means to address a First Amendment concern.

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    People should never be forced to apologize for what they believe and say. He could be sorry that his words upset people but shouldn’t be sorry to speak if he holds those beliefs.
    These firings were totally unjustified.

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    This appears to be a textbook example of overreaching by a government agency, punishing people for their non-work related opinions.

    I know both attorneys and neither would advocate less for someone because of their race or religion.

    Howard is a phony dying to keep a spotlight on his wrinkled scabby face. He needs to be taken to task for his actions. Can bruce and gary start a collection to pay the lawsuit filing fee?

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    Sad to think sheres and raticoff bit the hook and actually believed these crimes were done by Palestinians. Wouldn’t surprise me to learn there weren’t even any teens killed.

    Just another Mossad false flag operation based on the evidence that is out there (Google it it you dare, or just keep accepting what our US television feeds you). And what a fake funeral, too – check that out, too, while you’re at it.

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    JUST IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF:
    1. AN ASA SAID I HATE NIGGERS OR JEWS
    2. ANYONE SAID KILL ALL THE JEWS
    3. ANYONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT JEWS

    We all know what would happen. And whoever feels so strongly is support of these to racists, put your money where your mouth is and start a fund and file a lawsuit.

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    JUST IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF:
    1. AN ASA SAID I HATE NIGGERS OR JEWS
    2. ANYONE SAID KILL ALL THE JEWS
    3. ANYONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT JEWS

    We all know what would happen. And whoever feels so strongly is support of these two racists, put your money where your mouth is and start a fund and file a lawsuit.

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    FIRE FINKELSTEIN, Mr. Finkelstein
    Where is Finkelstein’s apology?
    “Mr. Finkelstein outrageously equated the comments to the rhetoric expressed in Nazi Germany leading to the genocide of tens of millions of people during the Holocaust. Such an appalling belittlement of one of the most horrific events in modern history, exhibits Mr. Finkelstein’s skewed perspective on the matter and desire to simply make headlines”.

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    I think Sheres and Raticoff are just terminally stupid for doing what they did… No excuses. No more stupid letters, No appeal, No deals. Suck it up for what you did. Hit the road and get a real job where when you run your mouths like that you don’t get a chance to apologize and even screw that up, you get your butt canned on the spot with no hopes of a good forwarding address.
    You want to play like you’re big tough punks with big mouths, then take the personal responsibility that comes with it and quit crying like a chick that’s been done wrong and dumped half way through a first date. Grow some nuts and hoe the road, dudes.
    And this Blank dude must have been high when he wrote this letter because it’s the second dumbest thing behind what these morons did to start this whole thing. Get some decency dudes ! You look really Rank on this thing!

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    Are Blank, Sheres, and Raticoff going to come to the support of the CNN reporter reassigned after calling a group of Israelis scum since they were cheering the bombing of Gaza and threatening to harm her if she didnt report “correctly”. It would only make sense that they speak out in support of her tweet.

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5598866

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    I think Mr. Finkelstein could just as easily fired either attorney for no reason, although his reasons in this particular incident more than warranted the dismissal of both Sheres and Raticoff.
    Rants of the nature involved in their facebook entrees have no place on any social media database and denoted a complete disregard for propriety and professionalism to the point of being hateful and disgusting.
    Unfortunately for both attorneys involved, it was a hard lesson, but I can’t imagine how it could have been handled except for the way it was by Mr. Finkelstein; with dignity and obvious introspection on his part from what I saw in news reports.
    This could not have been an easy or comfortable issue for Mr. Finkelstein to address, but one he never the less met with forthrightness and courage.
    Both attorneys instead of offering dumb and contrived excuses should be ashamed for their actions. I think what they did is indefensible as is their responses and attempt to shift blame to Mr. Finkelstein for having been forced to take the action he did in their dismissals. I believe Mr. Finkelstein was right in what he did. These kinds of hate rants should not be tolerated and have no place in todays society.

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    Freedom of speech only matters if speech some regard as offensive is protected; otherwise you would only be able to say that which all would agree with. Regardless of how you feel about what was said, they had the right to say it on their personal facebook pages. Firing someone for what they say in a personal forum is wrong.

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    Since when is facebook a personal forum? It’s there for the whole world to see and hate speech is not protected.

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    “Since wrongfully terminating Mr. Sheres, Mr. Finkelstein has taken this opportunity to inject ethnic discrimination where none existed.”

    Finklestein does it to the police all the time. Surprising he would eat his own though.

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