VIDEO: Florida Appeal Court hears oral arguments in Watchdog City journalists’ public records lawsuit challenging fees by Collier Clerk Brock
Brock conceded journalist's initial suit correct in new public records policy posted online, but has spent $67,000 in tax dollars on legal bills to fight over $556 bill
Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal heard oral arguments on May 6, 2015 in the appellate case brought by Collier Clerk of Courts Dwight Brock against Watchdog City journalist Gina Edwards.
Presiding were Judges Stevan T. Northcutt, Darryl C. Casanueva, and Anthony K. Black.
Edwards is represented by Marrett Hanna, Ryan Witmer and Giovani Mesa, who is with the O’Boyle law firm. Hanna and Witmer were previously with the firm. Brock is represented by Steve Blount.
Brock appealed after Edwards won favorable rulings two times in the trial court in 2014 in her public records lawsuit protesting the high fees charged to her by Brock’s office for county government records. After earlier charging her only $1 for hundreds of pages of scanned documents on CD, Brock charged Edwards $556, or $1 per page for scanned electronic documents on 2 CDs after she published investigative stories critical of Brock and his audit of his former political challenger.
Edwards filed suit based on two Attorney General opinions and Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Manual which says Clerks are required to charge lower fees under Florida’s public records law for county government records. Brock contends that he is governed only by the Clerk’s statute and can charge $1 per page for any document in his possession, including for electronic records.
A favorable ruling for Edwards at the appellate level will benefit all Floridians by holding Clerks around the state to the lower fee schedule under the public records law, F.S. 119.
A win by Brock could raise public records fees on members of the public and journalists around the state — by six fold and more — by allowing Clerks to charge significantly higher rates for county government records, whether in paper or electronic format.
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Conact Gina Edwards at 239-514-1336 or at email@example.com.