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Kimberle Weeks Makes a Court Appearance In Hearing That Illustrates Extent of Secret Recordings

| March 24, 2016

kimberle weeks

Kimberle Weeks this afternoon with her attorney, Joerg Jaeger, in a circuit court hearing. (She was smirking at the moment when testimony was offered about her recording a reporter in conversation with a county judge, without their permission. (c FlaglerLive)

Kimberle Weeks, the former Flagler County elections supervisor, was in court this afternoon for the latest in a series of still-inconclusive pre-trial hearings on the 12 felony charges she faces from her last months in office, which she resigned in January 2015.

Weeks was charged with 12 third-degree felony counts of illegally recording or transmitting the recordings of various individuals, many of them public or elected officials, some of whom had said they expressly told her not to record them. (The defense says they merely said they were “uncomfortable” with being recorded).

Weeks was indicted last May. The case has since been stretched by pre-trial hearings thick with complicated–or at least complicating–motions, mostly by the defense, to dismiss some of the counts, to split the charges and try them separately (in three groups, what’s called “severing”), and to settle the timeline in some of the charges.

The severing and dismissal motions took up the first part of the afternoon hearing Thursday before Circuit Judge Margaret Hudson, imported from Volusia County to hear the case, with Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis prosecuting and Joerg Jaeger defending Weeks. In a rare appearance, Weeks herself sat next to her attorney as her usual supporters filled half the benches on the right side of the courtroom. Those included Dennis McDonald and John Ruffalo, directors of the Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies group that amounted to Weeks’s Praetorian Guard when she was in office, battling various government agencies, and since. On the other side of the courtroom sat County Attorney Al Hadeed and County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen, the two officials whose surreptitiously recorded conversation (by Weeks) triggered the case against her.

Weeks wanted several counts dismissed because they related to that Hadeed-Ericksen recording, parts of which she disclosed at a public Canvassing Board meeting without prior consultation or approval from the board’s chairman, County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens. After disclosing the recording, she sent it to the News-Journal, WNZF and a third party. Each of these transmissions resulted in a felony charge against her. She is arguing, through her attorney, that because the transmissions involved an audio recording that had been made public at a public meeting, the recording was a public record from that point on, and therefore could not be actionable.

Lewis, in forceful, at times indignant tones, said the claim that the recording became legal after being published at a public meeting is untenable. “The argument the defense is propounding sounds too incredulous to think that it would make any sense,” Lewis said.

Jaeger argued that the minutes had conveyed the substance of the matter as well, and the minutes were official public records.

Hudson leaned toward the prosecution. “If she had given the minutes to those individuals I might agree with you, but I’m not sure it carries over to the recording itself,” Hudson said. She was reserving judgment.

She would also reserve judgment on some of the questions about separating the various counts, agreeing only to separate two of those counts. Even so, that means additional court proceedings and, potentially, two separate trials.

The rest of the hearing involved two testimonies–one by a Holly Hill police officer who’d had a conversation with Weeks on a police-related issue (several people on Weeks’s side listened and participated in the conversation), and one by a former Florida Department of Law Enforcement inspector who’d been involved in the initial Weeks investigation.

The Holly Hill police officer had been recorded. Jaeger questioned him so as to reveal–at least from Jaeger’s perspective–that the officer had been speaking with several people on Weeks’s side, on a speaker phone. Jaeger tried to elicit a concession from the officer–that he had no expectation of privacy, or that his being recorded may not have been out of the ordinary, since officers are sometimes recorded within their offices. But the officer would not concede. The FDLE inspector retraced his requests for the Hadeed-Ericksen recording and information related to that canvassing board meeting, which Weeks mostly declined to provide to him.

Philip Lindley, the inspector, described as “extraordinary” Weeks’s making him sign for some of the items she did give him, such as the sign-in sheet of the meeting and the public notice of the meeting. He described his method of investigating the issue surrounding that initial “illegal taping,” as he described it, his application for a search warrant and the serving of the warrant on Oc. 3. It was the first time that details of that search was revealed, though Lindley did not reveal anything unusual: Weeks’s computers were rushed to Tallahassee to forensically image their contents and returned to the office quickly so as not to interfere with that fall’s election. “It was a priority case for the lab.” Lindley said.

Five canvassing board meeting recordings (“a stack of canvassing board files”) were found on one of the computers, he said. One of the recordings was two hours and 27 minutes, yet the official meeting time had stretched about four hours. It was during that stretch that he heard the “whispered” conversation between Hadeed and Ericksen. The question has always been: was the canvassing board meeting in session in that room, where Ericksen and Hadeed were, or had the meeting in effect moved to a nearby room, where the business of the meeting was taking place? Lindley touched on that nuance but did not offer a judgment.

Much of what Lindley recounted, in effect, has been known by the extensive reporting on the history of Weeks’s difficulties with local government agencies and particular individuals. But Lewis’s questions pointed to the recurring thread in Lindley’s testimony: none of the people recorded by Weeks had consented to being recorded.

Jaeger, when he cross-examined Lindley, showed him a picture of the notice at the entrance to the supervisor’s office that stated explicitly that anyone on the premises could be recorded. Jaeger said he had not looked at the notice when he entered. In a more pointed turn during the testimony, Jaeger had Lindley read from the transcript of Lindley’s interview of Hadeed in which the county attorney told him that he’d heard Weeks turn off her recording device the day of one of the meetings in question, when various individuals–among them Hadeed–had said that they were not aware that they were being recorded.

“He told you in a sworn statement of 10/9/14 that he heard her turn off the recording,” Jaeger said to Lindley, ostensibly as a question. Lindley only said that it was a statement he heard Hadeed make, but if Jaeger’s intention was clear (he was methodically sowing doubt over the statements and assumptions that individuals did not know or were not on notice that they were being recorded, or that their conversations were not confidential, or that they were on official business in a public place) he tried but was repeatedly unable to lead Lindley to reach his conclusions. And much of that line of questioning relied on subjective judgments rather than clear statements that indicated that individuals were (or were not) aware that they were being recorded. In one case–Weeks’s recording of the secretary of state-there was no question that Ken Detzner, the secretary, had emphatically called himself “uncomfortable” with being recorded.

When again questioned by Lewis, Lindley stressed that, for example, when Hadeed spoke in a whisper–in the so-called “whispering tape”–that was telling (“probative” had been his earlier word): it was his intention to keep the conversation confidential.

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12 Responses for “Kimberle Weeks Makes a Court Appearance In Hearing That Illustrates Extent of Secret Recordings”

  1. Linda Sparda says:

    Do your self a favor and dont talk to any public offical on any public record. As tbey can claim its harassment. How convenient, when its a two way conversation its not constituted as harassment. Make sure you save everyone of emails or texts. This county will try to set you up.

  2. r&r says:

    With her tactics it reminds me of Hillary. They both belong in prison.

  3. YankeeExPat says:

    Like a Rash that keeps coming back!

    “Usual supporters Dennis McDonald and John Ruffalo, directors of the Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies”

  4. Woody says:

    Her and her son can share a prison cell

  5. gh residen says:

    How did this woman, an obvious dishonest person ever get elected to office. She makes public servants look like a “joke”. A major embarrisment to Palm Coast. As well as the amount of tax payers money being spent on this huge “JOKE”.

  6. confidential says:

    The saga of witch hunting some of our constitutional officials re- elected by over 61 percent of our county electorate, proceeds. Little by little all is being uncover including the lies of the “retired” FDLE investigator (also a lawyer) summoned to testify and trying to generate false evidence and cover up the reality.
    What was supposed to do our SOE official after hearing from the mouth of the County Attorney that a third degree felony was covered and not reported during a past cavassing board meeting? She went to the higher up BOCC, State Attorney, Board of Elections and its Attorney, Secretary of State copying them the evidence and what all these people did …turned around and accuse her of illegal recordings. Plain and simple political pay back that to me is even a violation of the Slapp suits prohibited by the FL legislators because the intent to silence us versus government. The proof was a recording done under the Sunshine Law in her office of a public canvassing board meeting, an office that had at the entrance publicly advertised that all is recorded on site. We are recorded every where we go now in public/government building so? Recordings took place in the past and currently as well by the FC Clerks of Court and some been published in the past with no repercussions why the witch hunt now?
    http://www.brechner.org/violations.asp July 2002: State Attorney John Tanner ordered an investigation into a lunch break discussion between Flagler County Commissioners Pat McGuire and Jim Darby. An official tape recorder accidentally left on by the Clerk of the Court captured the two discussing a vote on a controversial noise ordinance after a commission meeting had been adjourned. The two were each fined $500.
    These shenanigan’s in the FCBOCC and its administrators/legal teams versus the best interest of the taxpayers and now voters have been going on for a long time. The time has arrived for justice to prevail and the best way to find out the truth is to attend the process in court.

  7. L.D.Ablo says:

    GH Residen,
    For the record, she got voted into office twice. The first time because she promised to make the election process smoother,and the second time because she delivered on that promise. From my voting experiences during her tenure, voting was a hell of a lot easier and less time consuming. Her focus was always on ways to make voting more efficient for the public. Perhaps you forgot,but this whole affair began because Ms Weeks was trying to get more parking for voters and was turned down by the members of the opposite party.In defiance she removed some cone barriers so that elderly voters didn’t have too far to walk. How dare she!
    From there,politics took over,and as we should all know by now politics is the religion of the feeble minded,

  8. confidential says:

    The major embarrassment are the FCBOCC and county attorney going after an innocent and honest SOE lady because in her investiture she risk all to keep the elections process free from fraud and easier for voters to participate, with sufficient parking and more availability of locations for early voting. She was called a 5 letter B…. by the county commissioner besides the relentless micromanaging by Coffey county administrator thru budget dissaprovals interfering with her office financial obligations and authority as an independent elected constitutional official. Weeks was disapproved a $23,000 request increase on her budget with poisonous fanfare but for the current SOE they quietly approved with no comments a $100,000 increase? If this doesn’t speak for itself what else will?
    Canvassing boards of elections meetings are very, very important because the counting of cast ballots and mailed absentees and approval or not of provisional (questionable) ballots is decided by the 3 members canvassing board that are: the SOE, the county judge (of course a lawyer) and the chair of the county commission. Their fairness and professionalism is vital specially on a county that in most elections the local officials elected win or loose by small margins. Then when a 3rd degree felony is witnessed by the county attorney during a past canvassing board meeting and also informed by evidence to the FDLE investigator (also a lawyer) then they should have not cover it up. Instead they should have helped the SOE and investigate it, other than trying now very hard and under bogus accusations, to put her in jail for being a whistle blower. We need the Feds DOJ in these court hearings and pretrials to come and investigate.

  9. Something is wrong with this picture says:

    Weeks’ attorney asked what was Weeks to do when she learned of a felony crime from the public meeting audio that involved county attorney Al Hadeed and FDLE investigator stated it was Craig Coffey and Al Hadeed that initiated the investigation against Weeks…this all sounds like a witch hunt against a whistle blower to me. Law enforcement can’t be trusted if they can prosecute Weeks but let Hadeed go free.

  10. confidential says:

    DCBOCC allowing Coffey and Hadeed to file the complaint against SOE Weeks are the major embarrassement by going after an innocent and honest SOE lady because in her investiture she risk all to keep the elections process free from fraud and easier for voters to participate, with sufficient parking and more availability of locations for early voting. She was called a 5 letter B…. by the county commissioner besides the relentless micromanaging by Coffey county administrator thru budget disapprovals interfering with her office financial obligations and authority as an independent elected constitutional official. Weeks was disapproved a $23,000 request increase on her budget with poisonous fanfare but for the current SOE they quietly approved with no comments a $100,000 increase? If this doesn’t speak for itself what else will?
    Canvassing boards of elections meetings are very, very important because the counting of cast ballots and mailed absentees and approval or not of provisional (questionable) ballots is decided by the 3 members canvassing board that are: the SOE, the county judge (of course a lawyer) and the chair of the county commission. Their fairness and professionalism is vital specially on a county that in most elections the local officials elected win or loose by small margins. Then when a 3rd degree felony is witnessed by the county attorney during a past canvassing board meeting and also informed by evidence to the FDLE investigator (also a lawyer) then they should have not cover it up. Instead they should have helped the SOE and investigate it, other than trying now very hard and under bogus accusations, to put her in jail for being a whistle blower. We need the Feds DOJ in these court hearings and pretrials to come and investigate.

  11. GT says:

    The only way to stop corruption is to make an example of someone.

  12. FlaglerLive says:

    Some comments in this thread misstate the timeline and origin of the FDLE investigation. While the county administration was clearly considering legal action against Kimberle Weeks, and while administrator Craig Coffey outlined what he believed had been the supervisor’s illegal taping–in a Sept. 29 article in these pages–the county did not end up initiating the investigation. On Oct. 3, we reported: “The county did not initiate the complaint, County Administrator Craig Coffey said this afternoon. FDLE said it began to look into the matter when a News-Journal reporter made an inquiry to the State Attorney’s office. The State Attorney then forwarded the matter to FDLE. But the county is cooperating in the investigation.” That information seems corroborated by FDLE inspector Lindley’s statement in his investigative report: This investigation is predicated upon information from the Office of the State Attorney (SAO), Seventh Judicial Circuit, forwarded on September 23, 2014, to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Office of Executive Investigations (OEI), for review.” Lindley further specifies the origin of that information: “On September 23, 2014, the SAO forwarded OEI an email that they received from Reporter Julie Murphy, with the Daytona Beach News Journal containing questions concerning the recording. Subsequently, the SAO forwarded an additional email with a link to a September 24, 2014, Palm Coast Observer news article entitled, “Weeks taped officials without permission.” Murphy became the county’s public information officer only a few months later. While it’s possible the county put her up to the task, it’s a stretch to think it did: Murphy appears merely to have beaten the county to the punch. It is equally disingenuous of the county to seek to distance itself from legal action against Weeks, as Coffey had gone on record accusing Weeks of acting unlawfully: “According to Fla. Statute 934.03,” he had written, “it is a third degree felony to tape a private conversation without knowledge of both parties and it is also a third degree felony to distribute the recording to others.” The 12 felony charges against Weeks are all third-degree felonies related to that statute.

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