06-25-2012, 06:59 PM #1
Walton Officials Not Guilty of Contempt in Email Case
Judge Green Returns Order In Email Contempt Case
Judge Green says Walton Commissioner Scott Brannon is not in contempt. Walton County Judge David Green returned an order in the contempt case filed by Suzanne Harris against Walton Commissioner Scott Brannon. Green says the court is unable to conclude that Commissioner Brannon’s act of sending the e-mails introduced into evidence constituted contempt. This applies to Brannon personally and the Walton Commission.
After a previous complaint by resident Suzanne Harris, Judge Green ordered the Walton Commissioners to use county services when sending emails in order to comply with state Sunshine Law record requirements. After emails were sent from addresses other than the main county email address, Harris took the matter to the court with a claim that Brannon and two others violated the court order. This was a Motion to Show Cause why the violators should not be held in contempt. Harris contended Brannon violated the terms of the court order.
Brannon and two others being charged, held they have not violated the proscriptions contained in the judgement and claimed Harris is barred by the doctrine of unclean hands from seeking a finding of contempt against them due to Harris’ participation in the same email correspondence she complained about.
According to http://legal-dictionary.thefreedicti.../unclean+hands, a legal doctrine which is a defense to a complaint, which states that a party who is asking for a judgment cannot have the help of the court if he/she has done anything unethical in relation to the subject of the lawsuit. Thus, if a defendant can show the plaintiff had "unclean hands," the plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed or the plaintiff will be denied judgment.
The plaintiff presented eighteen documents and seventeen were accepted into evidence. The defendant presented twenty-two documents to support its defense of unclean hands. Of the documents entered by Harris, fifteen were sent by Commissioner Scott Brannon, one forwarded by Commissioner Cecilia Jones to the county attorney of a document already in her official email account and one by Brannon’s administrative assistant to another county employee. Of the 15 emails sent from Brannon’s private email account, twelve were either directly copied to the official email account of the assistant or another county official or were of documents already on the county’s official email account or other public record.
The three remaining emails were sent to Harris. One was a copy of a cell phone message from Lloyd Blue requesting a meeting. The two remaining concerned a behind the scene effort between Brannon, Harris, County Attorney Clay Adkinson and Harris’ Attorney Matt Gaetz to prepare an ethics complaint against Walton Commissioner Larry Jones. Judge Green says, while those two emails might constitute evidence of an attempt to avoid transparency in government, supposedly advocated by Harris, even though she participated in them, they do not constitute transacting county business. Likewise, Judge Green says the emails presented by Brannon also do not constitute transaction of business.
Judge Green says, considering the Final Judgement, the fact that all emails involving acts which might be deemed transacting county business were forwarded to official county email addresses, the nature of the emails and the definitions of contempt, he is unable to conclude Commissioner Brannon’s act of sending the particular emails introduced into evidence by Harris constituted contempt by Brannon or the Walton Commission.
Judge Green ordered and adjudged that Harris’ motion for contempt by denied and the court reserves jurisdiction over the issue of the costs and attorney’s fees. The order was completed June 22nd.
06-26-2012, 12:13 AM #2
The little good old boy clique takes care of it's own.
06-26-2012, 08:25 AM #3
I have two solutions for those who insist that our three branches of government and our local level is corrupt beyond redemption, which I don't believe. Either move to another country you prefer that is better than the USA (there is none, BTW) or do something positive and constructive to make changes. "The little good old boy clique takes care of it's own.", doesn't cut it with me and many of those who know better.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
06-26-2012, 09:09 AM #4
Beware, Ms Harris evidently does not retreat I am sure she will find another way to 'protect' all of us in Walton County with another investigation/waste of tax money. A look through history has shown those who declare themselves saints are far from it. I believe someone is hiding under a fake halo.
I'm not saying Walton County is perfect but one overly funded citizen is really making us look like an insane county that wants to tear itself down. That 'lady' needs a different hobby.
06-26-2012, 09:40 AM #5
Based on the article as I understand it, she seemed to be part of the problem which is why the judge had to find the way he did.
06-26-2012, 09:42 AM #6
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."Respect the Beach.
06-26-2012, 11:22 AM #7
06-26-2012, 12:52 PM #8
Andy, my wife would agree with you and she is a lawyer. I probably agree more with RB. Generally our government works very well and has been doing so for over 200 years. I enjoy many freedoms as a small business owner but all three branches of government are starting to shift into something that is affecting the freedoms in our economic system for individuals and small businesses. Our political system is ineffective, our economic system is weighted toward large corporate entities and our judicial system has too much political bias (just read Justice Scalia's comments regarding immigration). Many good American's are starting to question our government's ability to get things right. I know that you have little patience with those that complain but do not campaign for something better and you are right. But, I believe this is just the beginning of a more informed and active citizen and voter. Probably not you but many of us are just now opening our eyes to what is happening outside of our little worlds. What we are finding out is shocking. The fact that we are just finding it out is our fault as we have gotten complacent (this word could be substituted for many underachieving behaviors). The point is we are all starting to question every aspect of our electorate be it way overdue. I think you will agree that these questions are only part of a good democracy but an important part non the less. At some point in trying to find the answers to these questions will we find either the truth or a problem in the system. Since we both may agree with the problems in the system we will all need to be unified in order to correct these complex issues. Hopefully we will live to see less polarization in not only our government but in all people. Being informed is not as easy as one might think. It takes a lot of work to uncover layers and layers of misinformation. We need people like you to continue to enlighten us with your knowledge and experience. So keep it coming and try to allow for a little tolerance of those of us who have opinions but maybe not so much direct knowledge or experience. You will begin to rub off on us!
06-26-2012, 12:55 PM #9
I have no issue with you voicing your opinion, but in all fairness with a comment such as the one you made you really did not think someone wouldn't call you out. I personally resent that you think the Judges may be shady without the proof. I can accept we have issues in our county and some of them have been addressed here. I may not like the ruling, but at the same time it seems pretty legitimate based on what was posted. That is just my opinion and like you I can make without my feelings being bothered by someone who may disagree with me.
06-26-2012, 01:11 PM #10
Last edited by kurt; 06-27-2012 at 07:14 AM.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
06-26-2012, 01:18 PM #11
mputnal3, you and I are very much intune as to our opinion and vision of our government...at all levels. No one agrees 100% of the time but it is certainly nice to see such evaluation and perception of our government expressed by the likes of you.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
06-26-2012, 01:20 PM #12
06-26-2012, 11:13 PM #13
06-27-2012, 07:10 AM #14
I would hope that voters are becoming more informed but it seems to me and some others who aren't active on this discussion board that there still is a little circle of insiders who go out of their way to defend outrageous and unethical behavior by some elected officials. Elected officials should be accountable to the voters and good stewards of our tax money but I get the impression that if someone is critical of one of Walton county's own they are 'called out' by their buddies. There is a good old boy/girl element in Walton county. For those of you who don't accept that, get over it.
07-28-2012, 05:10 PM #15
07-29-2012, 05:15 PM #16
It shouldn't surprise anybody that Brannon got out of this. And frankly I welcome people like Mrs. Harris. More people should question the motives of elected officials. The big problem with Walton County is that we have a one party system and if you're tight with the Republican big dawgs like you are home free. I believe in the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But the flaw in that is that sometimes charges are nullified either by a jury or a judge who sees fit to dismiss a case. In the OJ trial nullification applies. In the Casey Anthony trial the prosecutors couldn't prove Murder 1. That doesn't make her mom of the year. And closer to home, Ray Sansom won't win any prizes for Public Servant of the Centruy.
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