A Florida judge signed a “risk protection order” last week that allowed the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to seize 67 guns from a bailiff deemed to be a risk to himself or others.
The order was signed after the bailiff, Franklin Joseph Pinter, allegedly exhibited troubling behavior in the courthouse, and he’s since been relieved from duty.
Court documents obtained by the Sun Sentinel detail several allegations leveled against Pinter by his colleagues. In one May incident, a bailiff said that Pinter told him to “get the f— out of here” and that “all you rats should be exterminated.”
In another incident in January, Pinter was allegedly seen pretending to hold a rifle and shoot the people walking below the court’s atrium. He also told another bailiff that he wanted to burn two other bailiffs with a blowtorch and “exterminate” another of his colleagues.
The court was also concerned by an alleged statement Pinter made that “nobody will take my guns, not over my dead body.” Court documents cite another incident in which Pinter showed off a new Glock in the courthouse parking lot and told a colleague that he had bought an AR-15.
In granting the initial risk protection order, Judge Sandra Perlman wrote that “there is reasonable cause to believe the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others in the near future” by having firearms and ammunition.
Florida’s new Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act allows law enforcement to petition the court for a risk protection order under which law enforcement can seize guns and ammunition. The act also created “temporary ex-partre risk protection orders,” which permit law enforcement to immediately seize a person’s firearms until a full hearing can be held.
Law enforcement appears to be taking full advantage of their new toy.
A South Florida Sun Sentinel review found police in Broward County led the state in obtaining the risk protection orders with 34 in the last six weeks. Broward County’s Chief Judge Jack Tuter said in the April 26 report that half the cases involved mental health crises and the rest were for people accused of making online threats.
In this case, according to court records, Judge Perlman granted the ex-partre order on May 25, a hearing was held on May 30, and Perlman signed the full risk protection order on June 6.
The law stipulates that the petitioner (the Broward County Sheriff’s Office) must present clear and convincing evidence that the “respondent” (Pinter) poses a “significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others.” To prove this, the petitioner can submit a variety of evidence, including “recent act or threat of violence by the respondent against himself or herself or others, whether or not such violence or threat of violence involves a firearm.”
The court, apparently, deemed the testimony from Pinter’s fellow bailiffs’ evidence enough to grant the order.
Lawyers representing both parties were contacted without response.
The order expires on June 5, 2019, at which point the Broward County Sheriff’s Office can petition the court to extend the order another 12 months. If they choose not to seek an extension, the sheriff’s office must return Pinter’s firearms.
Pinter can also ask the courts to vacate the order at any point within the next 12 months.