A grand jury foreman was dismissed after he allegedly attempted to conduct an investigation of his own employer _ the state Department of Professional Regulation (DPR). Leon County Circuit Judge Charles D. McClure on Thursday ordered the removal of Ken Morrison, an investigator at DPR, after determining that Morrison had violated grand jury regulations and would be unable to act impartially.
The action came at the request of State Attorney Willie Meggs, who said Morrison spent up to 57 hours conducting an independent investigation. Meggs attached affidavits from DPR employees who said Morrison had been questioning witnesses and claimed to be investigating bid-rigging at DPR.
Traditionally grand jurors are called to hear investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies or prosecutors. Jurors are forbidden from acting individually.
Morrison, who also works as a volunteer for former U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles' campaign against Gov. Bob Martinez, said Friday night that he also has been suspended from his job.
"They don't hand out Eagle badges for being a whistle-blower," Morrison said.
Morrison's removal came just two days after Judge McClure called grand jurors to the courthouse to hear testimony from Leon County Sheriff Eddie Boone.
Earlier this month grand jurors absolved Boone's office of any criminal wrongdoing over charges that an undersheriff in his department had illegally tape-recorded a Tallahassee Democrat reporter. Jurors also accused the Democrat of unethical conduct for publishing details of a criminal charge in a case involving a juvenile.
In a subsequent letter to the judge, Boone said he wanted the grand jury to look at the newspaper's continuing accusations against his department. He said he wanted to determine the relationship between the articles and attempts by Tallahassee Police Chief Melvin Tucker to investigate the Sheriff's Department.
Meggs, who serves as legal adviser to the grand jury, said the remaining jurors are scheduled to reconvene Nov. 1. He declined comment on the judge's action.