James Eric McDonough aka “Doc Justice,” a Miami-Dade activist and journalist for PINAC with a doctorate degree in inorganic chemistry, is suing once again in what has become an epic David vs. Goliath legal battle between himself and several South Florida law enforcement agencies who made the mistake of underestimating him.
It started in 2012 when McDonough asked Homestead police officer Alejandro Murguido, who lives down the street from him, to drive slower though the neighborhood for the safety of his children who sometimes play outside.
Murguido responded by retaliating against him by making false statements that led to felony charges of stalking and threatening a civil servant against McDonough in 2013, which were eventually dismissed.
For most, that’s when the fight would be over.
For McDonough that’s when the battle began.
Since then McDonough has sued many police officers from Monroe County, Miami-Dade County and Homestead in addition to multiple county and city officials, alleging police had been threatening him and his wife, doxxing and harassing him for five years.
In 2017, Doc Justice won a federal appeals court ruling in the 11th Circuit Court that expanded the rights of Floridians to record statements from public officials.
“In late 2014, I published parts of a meeting I had recorded with the Homestead Chief of Police,” McDonough recalled about the case, McDonough v. Fernandez-Rundle.
“I received a letter from the State Attorney’s Office threatening prosecution if I again recorded police without consent. With that standing, I sued for the right to record police, argued then won at the 11th Circuit pro se!”
Rundle attempted to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but highest court in the U.S. declined to hear her case.
McDonough’s most recent lawsuit,which can be read below, filed on March 11 last month, under the Florida Public Records Act, alleges that McDonough emailed the Homestead city clerk Elizabeth Sewell on February 18 requesting records pertaining to leave taken by officer Murguido between April 9, 2013 and April 9, 2015.
On February 19, McDonough received an email response acknowledging the requested records, which is shown as an exhibit attached to the lawsuit below.
The lawsuit also alleges that it took the city only 15 minutes on February 20, 2019 to retrieve the records.
However, the city of Homestead waited “almost three weeks after retrieving the records, and after the filing of the suit, before providing copies to the plaintiff, which is an unlawful delay” the suit states.
Watch Dr. McDonough tell his story to the panel of the Florida Supreme Court in the video above.
Read “Doc Justice’s” most recent lawsuit, filed pro se, below.
And, read about how Doc Justice went from being just a regular guy working for the federal government, to an activist and now to a part-time journalist at PINAC who has helped establish case law for the right to record public officials here.