FDLE says judge should reject Rebekah Jones property request

Attorneys for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say a judge should reject a request to return property seized from the home of fired state Department of Health analyst Rebekah Jones because another judge has authority over the matter.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper is scheduled Wednesday to hear arguments on a motion by Jones’ attorneys to force FDLE to return computer equipment and other property seized during a Dec. 7 search of her home.

Jones, who was fired last year from her Department of Health job, has drawn national attention because of her allegations that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has manipulated data about the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in a filing Monday, FDLE attorneys wrote that Circuit Judge Joshua Hawkes signed the search warrant and later received an inventory of property seized as part of the FDLE’s investigation into a message sent on a Department of Health computer system.

The FDLE’s attorneys argued in the filing that, under state law, Hawkes has jurisdiction to decide whether to approve a request to return Jones’ property.

“Public policy also requires this court (Cooper) to decline to exercise its concurrent jurisdiction,” the filing said. “To proceed otherwise

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