CREATED Dec. 6, 2012 - UPDATED: Dec. 7, 2012
LEE COUNTY - Animal rights activists taking action after a lee county judge dismisses several cruelty cases in court earlier this week. They say Judge Frank Mann is being soft on animal abusers and they want him removed from the bench. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has been following this story and is here now with the latest.
Since our report this past Tuesday, hundreds of people were outraged after hearing Judge Mann dismissed animal cruelty cases. Now some are taking action in hopes of keeping this from happening again.
On Tuesday, we showed up to court to see for ourselves how Judge Mann ruled on animal cruelty cases.
Within an hour and a half, we counted 13 cases; everything from cruelty and neglect to owners not getting their dogs vaccinated.
Judge Mann dismissed most charges and didn't seem to review any of the evidence in these cases.
Ria Brown: "Not to have your evidence viewed is disturbing."
Animal rights activists also questioning why Judge Mann won't consider evidence presented by the officers.
Mark Dahlberg: "They were here to offer evidence and yet before they even had a chance to speak the cases were dismissed."
On Tuesday, the office manager with animal services says she was subpoenaed to court only to find Judge Mann had dismissed her case in august without telling her. In that case a woman was charged with forging a rabies vaccination.
Mike Mason: "Officers must be discouraged while doing their jobs."
Ria Brown: "It's discouraging, yes, I can't say it isn't."
Now some activists telling Fox 4 they plan to file complaints against Judge Mann with the Judicial Qualifications Commission or JQC. The JQC investigates all complaints against judges and then makes a final recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court.
Lee County Animal Control officers say Judge Mann's actions not only affect animals but each time he dismisses a case tax dollars are also wasted.
Ria Brown: "We spend time and money bringing these cases forward and it also costs us money when they're dismissed so we don't take that lightly and wouldn't bring a case to court that we didn't feel had merit."
Now some hope an official complaint against the judge will prompt action so those without a voice can still be heard in a court of law.
Ria Brown: "We just want to make sure people take animal abuse and neglect seriously and this doesn't discourage them from reporting it."
The complaint form is on the JQC's website. Animal service officers say they'll provide people with details about the cases Judge Mann dismissed this week, all they have to do is request them.