Sarasota Herald Tribue by Earle Kimel
January 9, 2020
VENICE — The Venice City Council will vote Monday on whether to approve a consent final judgment to settle a lawsuit alleging Sunshine Law violations, filed in January 2018 by Michael Barfield and De Novo Law Services over the city’s inability to produce text messages.
The consent agreement, which will also have to be signed by 12th Judicial Circuit Judge Maria Ruhl, calls for the city to pay $45,321 in attorney fees and court costs to open government advocate Michael Barfield.
Barfield, acting as De Novo Law Services LLC and represented by attorney Robert Watrous, sued the city in January 2018 after the city could not adequately produce public records to fulfill requests made by the owners of McLeod Recycling Yard for texts from code enforcement employees.
During his follow up, Barfield uncovered a flaw in the way Venice handles text messages and eventually asked for texts from phones used by elected officials as well.