St. Johns County Attorney’s Office Intends to Request Board of County Commissioners Approval to Pull Item 15 on Commissioner Conduct from the January 16 Regular Meeting
On January 12, 2024, the County Attorney’s Office for the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) announced their intention to ask the BOCC on Tuesday, January 16 to pull Item 15 on a presentation from outside counsel to provide a legal analysis related to commissioner conduct from the Regular Agenda as originally posted for time certain at 1 p.m. and subsequently request a special “shade meeting” to discuss the item to be held at a later date as permitted by Section 286.011(8), of the Florida Statutes.
The background information on item 15 is:
***THE FOLLOWING ITEM IS TIME CERTAIN AT 1:00 PM*** Presenter: Raymond Treadwell, Esq., Lawson Huck Gonzalez, PLLC Staff Member: David Migut, County Attorney 15. Outside Counsel Presentation. At the December 5, 2023 Board of County Commissioners meeting, the Board passed a motion that included retaining outside counsel to provide a legal analysis related to commissioner conduct. On December 7, 2023, the County entered into an agreement with Raymond Treadwell, Esquire, Shareholder with Lawson Huck Gonzalez, PLLC for such services. Mr. Treadwell has provided a written legal opinion and will present his findings to the Board.
Section 286.011(8), Florida Statutes, provides a limited exception to this general openness requirement and makes litigation strategy or settlement meetings private when they are held between a board and its attorney and the board is a party before a court or administrative agency. The statute limits the persons who may attend such a meeting, the subject of any such meeting, and the length of time the record of the meeting may be kept closed. The records of the meeting become public at the conclusion of litigation. The statute provides:
“(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), any board or commission of any state agency or authority or any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, and the chief administrative or executive officer of the governmental entity, may meet in private with the entity’s attorney to discuss pending litigation to which the entity is presently a party before a court or administrative agency, provided that the following conditions are met:
(a) The entity’s attorney shall advise the entity at a public meeting that he or she desires advice concerning the litigation.
(b) The subject matter of the meeting shall be confined to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures.
(c) The entire session shall be recorded by a certified court reporter. The reporter shall record the times of commencement and termination of the session, all discussion and proceedings, the names of all persons present at any time, and the names of all persons speaking. No portion of the session shall be off the record. The court reporter’s notes shall be fully transcribed and filed with the entity’s clerk within a reasonable time after the meeting.
(d) The entity shall give reasonable public notice of the time and date of the attorney client session and the names of persons who will be attending the session. The session shall commence at an open meeting at which the persons chairing the meeting shall announce the commencement and estimated length of the attorney client session and the names of the persons attending. At the conclusion of the attorney client session, the meeting shall be reopened, and the person chairing the meeting shall announce the termination of the session.
(e) The transcript shall be made part of the public record upon conclusion of the litigation.”