by Camille Marino
The University of Florida has refused to disclose public records documenting their experiments on primates since our request was initiated in October 2010. In response to a subsequent formal lawsuit that we filed, on Decmber 30, 2011, the Court ruled that the university must hand over the records to us by 4:22 pm on January 3, 2012.
This is our first small, but very significant, victory of the new year….
Our attorney, Marcy I. LaHart, submitted a cohesive argument citing the Florida statutes in which “public records” and exemptions are defined as well as presenting case law and precedents supporting our position. Having failed to comply with the “sunshine laws” governing our request for over a year, counsel representing UF, Courtney Grimm was unable to offer any relevant defense of the university’s noncompliance. Rather, she attempted to put NIO Florida activists on trial. She cited injunctions against me, trespass violations against Lisa Grossman and me, threats that were never made, arrests that never happened…. She continued to build her case by offering that we peacefully protest (yes, protest) and, quite interestingly, she even noted a news story from India published earlier that day in which “university police” were concerned. The Honorable Judge Martha Lott’s ruling demonstrates that everything the esteemed Ms. Grimm argued was gibberish:
“Even if Ms. Marino is intent upon engaging in criminal activity, the University of Florida still must turn over the public records.”
This precedent needs to be understood by the timid and fearful in our community. We have proven that we will never know how far we can go unless we actively push every boundary until it breaks. Activists who adopt the language of the enemy and label their peers “terrorists” and “criminals” are holding us all back.
Location of Primates
Further, we will go back to court to break new ground and attempt to secure another precedent for activists.
We are in receipt of a document from UF since December 2010, which documents the 33 primates that are enslaved in their labs by name only. No other information was offered and the location of the primates was redacted. We hold that this redaction was illegal under Florida statues.
UF holds that the redaction is specifically exempted under “security systems” exemptions. Ms. Grimm went further to explain how animal rights activists around the country could use this information to “harm children” because we bomb things. The logic truly confounds! Apparently the Honorable Judge Martha Lott was a bit perplexed as well. She queried Ms. Grimm:
“So if activists know the location of the monkeys, you think they’re going to go blow them up?”
It took every ounce of self-control I had to suppress a giggle.
The Judge was unprepared to rule on this issue with the evidence submitted on that day.
We will be going back to court and hope to secure a definitive win for the animals.