State Attorney’s Office clears County Commission over ‘shade’ meeting for sheriff budget appeal

(Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/gregg@pnj.com)

Pensacola News Journal by Jim Little
December 28, 2017

The State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners did not violate the Sunshine Law when it held a “shade” meeting to discuss the sheriff’s budget appeal.

Sheriff David Morgan’s office filed a complaint with the state attorney asking for an investigation to determine if the County Commission violated the Sunshine Law when it held the closed-door meeting Oct. 23.

In a letter from the State Attorney’s Office, Greg Marcille, assistant state attorney, said the County Commission complied with all noticing requirements for the meeting and listed multiple Florida Attorney General opinions and court cases citing that governmental entities are allowed to hold attorney-client sessions.

“For these reasons, it does not appear that the Escambia County Board of Commissioners violated the Sunshine Law by holding an attorney-client session,” Marcille wrote. “Additionally no violations of the Florida Public Records law were committed.”

In the complaint to the State Attorney’s Office, the attorney for ECSO said the office was denied a public records request for the transcript from the closed portion of the meeting, which the Sheriff’s Office believes violates Florida law.

The State Attorney’s Office said the transcript can be kept confidential “until such time as the litigation is concluded.”

In a written statement to the News Journal, the Sheriff’s Office said it respectfully disagreed with Marcille’s interpretation.

“We will await the release of the transcript of the shade meeting before we pursue the matter further,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the written statement. [READ MORE]

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