Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brevard County Commission Votes To File Legal Brief Against Clerk of Court


Ellis
VIERA, Florida -- Brevard County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday that County Attorney Scott Knox file a legal brief in support of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast (EDC)'s appeal which contends that the EDC is not a public agency subject to the Florida Sunshine Act's Public Records Law.  Commissioner Trudie Infantini was the sole no vote.


The EDC is asking Florida's 5th District Court of Appeal to overturn a judgment handed down in April by Brevard County Circuit Court Judge, John Dean Moxley, Jr., who ruled that the EDC is indeed a public agency subject to Florida public records law and must produce its documents related to BlueWare to Brevard County Clerk of Court, Scott Ellis.


Knox's office will file what is known as an amicus curiae brief, which means "friend of the Court," because the County cannot be a party to the appellate case when the County did not appear as a party during the lower court case.  

Weatherman

"This litigation and ruling will be precedent-setting for the State of Florida and every economic development organization working for jobs and capital investment as this ruling could jeopardize effectiveness as well as damaging the State of Florida's reputation in economic development," EDC President Lynda Weatherman said to Commissioners.  "It's not just investment in Brevard County, no one will invest in the State of Florida."


But the State of Florida's top economic development department appears not to be climbing the same wall of worry expressed by Weatherman.  "At this time, DEO has no plans to file a brief," Florida Department of Economic Opportunity spokesperson, Jessica Sims, said last week .


The EDC isn't finding much public support in the case from its state level counterpart, Enterprise Florida, either.  Enterprise Florida wouldn't confirm whether or not it was going to file a brief in support of the EDC.


"I am disappointed that the EDC society, or association, or whatever it is, that thinks that this thing is a disadvantage isn't taking a bigger position on this issue," Commissioner Robin Fisher said to Weatherman.  "And I believe that your board and Lynda, you guys need to make them start -  if it is really gonna affect the whole state - then Brevard doesn't have to lead the charge.  I think the association of EDCs oughta be leading the charge on these issues about whether it is public record or not public record."


"I don't care if you [Mr. Knox] file it [the amicus brief]," said Ellis at the Commission meeting.  "I don't think it matters when you are up at the 5th DCA level."


One of Ellis' staff members, Tyler Winik, told the Commission that the Clerk's office has been in contact with organizations that may file amicus briefs in support of Ellis' position. 



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