WEST PALM BEACH
The Army has released a reservist from active duty after he asked a federal court to block his fifth deployment to war zones, his lawyer said Tuesday. Sgt. Erik Botta was sent to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once, and he felt the Army should consider his previous tours "to assure a sharing of exposure to the hazards of combat." He filed a petition July 12, contending the Army's refusal to exempt him "constitutes unlawful custody." But Botta, 26, of Port St. Lucie, withdrew it Tuesday, noting that the Army said he would be released and demobilized as of Tuesday, his lawyers said. Botta was sent home from Fort Jackson, S.C., on Monday night, said his attorney, Mark Waple. He said the Army released Botta because he "was not medically qualified to remain on active duty." That surprised Waple because Botta never claimed any medical disqualification and suffers from no illnesses. Army spokeswoman Maj. Cheryl Phillips didn't respond to specific questions about why Botta was released. Botta had said when he filed his petition that he wasn't against the war, but simply felt he had done his duty. Phillips noted at the time Botta filed his petition that Reserve units deploy for 12 consecutive months, and Botta had about 10 nonconsecutive months. Botta was deployed to Afghanistan for about seven months in 2002. He then had three deployments to Iraq as part of a special operations team: about a month in 2003, three months in 2004 and 15 days later that year, according to his petition.
Panel to study juvenile justice
Former Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan will chair a 25-member "blueprint commission" that will recommend ways to improve Florida's juvenile justice system, state officials said Tuesday. Brogan, now president of Florida Atlantic University, was lieutenant governor from 1999 until 2003. He resigned to take his present position shortly after he was re-elected on the Republican ticket headed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. Public hearings are scheduled Sept. 4-5 in Fort Lauderdale, Sept. 24-25 in Jacksonville, Oct. 4-5 in Orlando, Oct. 17-18 in Fort Myers, Oct. 29-30 in Tampa and Nov. 5-6 in Pensacola.
Closed boot camp cause of squabble
Bay County and the Department of Juvenile Justice are haggling over a defunct military-style boot camp that caused the state to outlaw such centers.
The county owns the land and wants to move several youth justice programs into the buildings for free. But the state owns the buildings and is asking for rent of $11,839 per month.
The boot camp was closed in April 2006 following the death of Martin Lee Anderson. He was roughed up by guards there in a videotaped altercation. He died a day later at a hospital.