06-02-2012, 01:27 PM #1
Brannon & Moliterno refuse to be deposed
Brannon, Moliterno decline to be deposed
May 31, 2012 10:31 PM
TOM McLAUGHLIN / Daily News
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County Commissioner Scott Brannon and Tourist Development Council Director Dawn Moliterno declined to participate in court-ordered depositions Wednesday.
The depositions, ordered by County Judge David Green, were scheduled in the lawsuit Suzanne Harris has filed against Walton County.
Harris alleges that Brannon violated a 2009 court order restricting him to using only county computers to conduct public business. She wants him held in contempt of court.
Read the motion to prohibit the cross-examination of Harris
Most of the evidence against Brannon involves email correspondence between him and Moliterno.
County spokesman Louis Svehla said Brannon and Moliterno were present for the depositions, but declined on the advice of counsel.
“This stems from an allegation that a federal investigation may be ongoing,” Svehla said.
Svehla said several attorneys representing Brannon and Moliterno had heard of a possible federal probe through “a recent filing by the (Matt) Gaetz law firm.”
That motion seeks to prohibit cross-examination of Harris “into her role as a source in a federal criminal investigation.”
“Harris has been and is involved as a source in a federal criminal investigation here in Walton County,” the motion states.
Speaking for Brannon’s and Moliterno’s legal team, Svehla said, “It is not known whether there is or is not currently an ongoing federal investigation.”
He said Brannon and Moliterno will seek a protective order.
“This stems from the allegation a federal investigation may be ongoing,” he said. “It is the belief of counsel that it is not appropriate at this time to give depositions.”
Gaetz, Harris’ attorney, said Thursday he would file a motion for sanctions against Brannon and Moliterno. He said he also planned to file a motion “to order depositions to occur at the Walton County Courthouse at a time certain.”
Gaetz said any question of whether Brannon and Moliterno would agree to have depositions taken was definitively answered when Green signed an order compelling their testimony.
“This is a court-ordered deposition that now two government officials are refusing to sit for,” Gaetz said. “This is how guilty people behave.”
Gaetz said he doesn’t understand the legal rationale behind shielding Brannon and Moliterno from testifying.
“If they’ve done nothing wrong, they’ve got nothing to fear. If they’ve committed crimes they’re entitled to plead the Fifth (Amendment to the Constitution),” he said. “If Commissioner Brannon would like to plead the Fifth in order to avoid self incrimination, it is his right to do so on the record.”
Moliterno declined comment. County Attorney Toni Craig did not return a phone call seeking comment. Efforts to reach Brannon through Svehla were unsuccessful.
06-02-2012, 08:48 PM #2
Is that kind of like pleading the fifth?
06-03-2012, 08:06 AM #3
It may be "kind of like pleading the fifth" but attorney Matt Gaetz blundered when he said, "If they've committed crimes, they're entitled to plead the Fifth..." Mr. Gaetz mistakenly assumes and gives the impression that every individual using the Fifth Amendment as a method of protection against self incrimination is automatically guilty of a criminal misdeed. This is not only not so, but fallicious of a member of the bar to intimate such. This is just one man's opinion based on what he remembers learning in his classes on the Constitution. There are reasons to plead the Fifth that do not involve criminal action.
Last edited by Andy A; 06-03-2012 at 08:35 AM.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
06-03-2012, 08:16 AM #4
I'm not a lawyer so I'm not familiar with all the legal stuff, but I've read some laws including most of the Sunshine Law and I can say that Walton County officials certainly take liberties regarding the release of information. My husband and I have written to the school district, our representative on the school board and some other officials. Certainly the board addresses some of our concerns and I understand that communication between elected officials dealing with school business is public information. I will say that I've contacted Rep. Drake on an issue or two and he had the courtesy to respond every time. I also hear that he's not running for re-election. The only thing little people like me can do is vote and contact our officials and when they don't have enough character to even respond to our concerns it is very discouraging. That's why I usually don't vote to re-elect anybody.
06-04-2012, 10:48 AM #5
I've written to both Cecelia Jones and Toni Craig, the new County Attorney. Neither one has replied. It has been more than a month. This is not what I would call being "responsive". Even if you do not have a specific answer to a question, it is proper at least respond to a constituent to let them know you are reviewing whatever and will have an answer within a certain amount of time. There seems to be no sense of urgency.
06-19-2012, 09:29 AM #6
I would implore you to reconsider not voting. I believe public apathy and low voter turnout and participation at our BCC meetings is a major reason we have non-responsive officials. We need to redouble our efforts and get more citizens involved. I would cite the Tea Party impact on the 2010 elections as a great example of being heard when we combine our voices.
06-03-2012, 06:30 PM #7
Representative Drake is not running this time because Representative Coley picked up Walton County in reapportionment but I venture to guess he will be running in 2014.
06-03-2012, 10:33 PM #8
Imo nothing says guilty like using your federal lawsuit to delay your local lawsuit.
06-04-2012, 09:56 AM #9I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
06-04-2012, 11:43 AM #10
Our officials are much too busy to bother with taxpayers and voters.
06-04-2012, 09:20 PM #11
Who is paying for these attorney fees?
06-05-2012, 05:33 AM #12
06-05-2012, 07:39 AM #13
06-05-2012, 02:46 PM #14
While the light bulbs are burning does anyone understand why people in government are allowed to spend our money to defend against policies or regulations that they violated? What prevents these problems from happening again and again? How do we educate the voters to vote for the person and not the party?
06-05-2012, 08:48 PM #15
Transparency is an empty political buzz word. The truth is that our elected officials aren't accountable to anyone and key decisions are made behind closed doors. I've tried to get information that should be available but officials have simply chosen to ignore my requests. And with the little political in crowed scratching each others' backsides it isn't likely to change. Thank goodness there are people with the guts and means to challenge these worthless hick politicians.
06-07-2012, 10:36 PM #16
06-08-2012, 08:42 AM #17
You might try this:
The First Amendment Foundation
336 East College Avenue, Suite 101
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
Ph. (850)224-4555 Fax850)224-0435 www.floridafaf.org
Barbara Peterson put on a wonderful seminar last week at NW Florida college extention. She could possibly help.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
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