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Felon in Alachua County fighting to restore voting rights

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 5:59 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A felon in Alachua County has filed a motion to restore his voting rights despite owing money to the Florida court system.

Robert Coleman was arrested in 2013 on a drug trafficking charge and sentenced to five years probation and fined more than $108,000.

Coleman has managed to pay back more than $13,000, but under Florida law, felons are only able to have their voting rights restored after paying all outstanding debts.

Coleman’s attorneys argue that fines like his are insurmountable and that voting rights should be restored as long as steps are being taken toward becoming a contributing member of society.

“Mr. Coleman will still owe the money, it’ll still be a civil judgment, but, if a judge grants this order, he would be permitted to become a full member of our society again and vote,” said Stacy Scott, the 8th Judicial Circuit Public Defender. “I think it was important for someone to step up and get this precedent set, hopefully, in our circuit, that a judge would grant a motion like this for the right person, under the right circumstances, which I believe Mr. Coleman is.”

Coleman’s hearing is set for Sept. 16 when he hopes that a ruling will be given on the issue.

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