Sarasota News Leader

11/29/2013

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Sarasota News Leader November 29, 2013 Page 11 says. Chapman received the revised settlement offer the next day, she added, 12 days after the settlement offer was sent to Atwell. TURNER PERSEVERES TO WIN Another Sunshine suit has been settled. Former City Commissioner Terry Turner became embroiled in a public records request by Mogensen's paralegal, Michael Barfield. Barfield sued the Sarasota Downtown Improvement District (DID) after the News Leader reported that two of its members admitted to using their private computers for email about city matters. Acting as his own attorney in the initial complaint, Barfield demanded production of the documents by filing suit on Sept. 12, 2012. He amended the complaint in December, demanding documents from Turner about a public referendum Turner was supporting. The city eventually settled the DID lawsuit and paid Barfield $8,437.50. The city also admitted that two DID members "did not produce public records in their possession in an immediate, timely fashion."
 Turner, however, did not settle; he was successful in having his case separated from the DID's because the DID members' records were clearly public while he believed his were private. On July 15 this year, Special Magistrate Deborah Bailey agreed with Turner and dismissed the suit. "Nowhere in the complaint does Barfield allege that the emails sought from Turner were made or received in connection with the official business of the City Commission," she wrote. Then City Commissioner Terry Turner participates in the Convocation of Governments session in January. File Photo Barfield appealed her decision to the 12th Judicial Circuit Court. On Nov. 12 a judge upheld Bailey's ruling and ordered "all parties to abide by the magistrate's findings." The case is somewhat similar to Chapman's. A board and individual members were sued. The city and individuals agreed they violated the Sunshine Law and the city paid the plaintiff's attorney's fees. But one party, not believing he broke the law, maintained his defense to eventually win in court on principle. Then he won on appeal. Still, it is likely Turner's legal fees exceeded the $8,437.50 the city paid to Barfield to settle its part of the suit. %

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