South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | June 22, 2021
The perjury case against Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie will continue after a judge denied a request to dismiss it.
Runcie’s indictment, dated April 15, didn’t provide enough details to mount a proper defense, his lawyers argued during a June 2 hearing. But Judge Martin Fein disagreed in a decision released last week.
“The indictment in the present case clearly identifies the subject under inquiry at the time is alleged to have committed perjury,” Fein wrote.
Fein had suggested that he had concerns that the state may have been too vague about Runcie’s charges, since the indictment doesn’t say what he lied about.
After his lawyers asked for more information in late April, prosecutors released a “statement of particulars” with more details. They said Runcie contacted grand jury witnesses to prepare for his testimony and then lied about it under oath when asked.
Although Runcie was charged with only one count of perjury, prosecutors said Runcie lied repeatedly during two days of testimony.
“When I read the indictment, I can’t determine whether the allegation was there was one false statement made or 25 false statements made. I have no idea,” Fein said during the June 2 hearing.
The judge also seemed concerned when Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Richard Mantei said the document with the allegations could be amended with additional false statements.
Mantei said the court has the ability to say no to that. He argued that specific details are not required in the indictment, particularly when it comes from a grand jury, which is secretive by law. Still, he said prosecutors provided the details when asked.
In the ruling, the judge said that case law says a “legally sufficient charging document need not put forth the proof with which the State intends to establish its case.”
Runcie agreed after his indictment to resign from the district. His last day is scheduled to be Aug. 10. Former Superintendent Jim Notter is one of 26 applicants to replace him as interim superintendent.
Runcie’s lawyer could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Runcie gave a brief update of his case Monday when questioned during a media briefing on summer school.
“We’ll continue to work with our legal team to make sure we can get a very just and clean outcome for this process,” he said.