In a pair of one-word rulings on Thursday, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee affirmed lower court decisions against Kimberle Weeks, the former Flagler County Supervisor of Elections, who has been contesting attorneys’ fees she owes the county from two frivolous and defamatory ethics complaints she brought against former County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen and county attorney Al Haddeed.
With interest, Weeks now owes the county a combined $173,500, not including potential fees incurred by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Weeks filed the ethics complaints in late 2014, just before she resigned halfway through her second term as elections supervisor, and as state investigators were investigating her conduct in office. She would soon face numerous felony charges over illegal recordings, including recordings of Hadeed and Ericksen. A jury in 2018 found her guilty on seven felonies. (The count regarding the recording of Hadeed and Ericksen was thrown out beforehand.) She was was sentenced on eight of them, then was resentenced to five of them after an appeals court eliminated three counts.
She served a month in jail and 18 months on probation, and lost her state pension. She was allowed to end her probation early last May, over the objections of Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis, who had prosecuted the case. Earlier, she attempted to have her convictions reduced to misdemeanors. The court denied that.
The state ethics commission threw out her claims against Ericksen and Hadeed in 2015. The county argued that she had filed them with knowing disregard of the truth, making them not only frivolous, but maliciously false, to the detriment of Hadeed’s and Ericksen’s reputation. The county argued before the ethics commission that because of the knowing malice, Weeks should be responsible for all attorneys’ costs incurred. The ethics commission agreed. (Weeks wasn’t the only one who’d filed complaints against county officials later found to be frivolous. Dennis McDonald, husband of School Board member Janet McDonald and a frequent candidate for office–and critic of government spending–was also ordered to pay fees, as was Mark Richter Jr., who no longer lives in the county.)
Weeks contested the county’s pursuit of attorneys’ fees, arguing the same points at various levels–administrative judge, circuit court, appeals court–and representing herself.
“Those cases have really begun in 2017 and have worked their way through the court system, including the Circuit Court in Leon County, twice to the District Court of Appeals,” Hadeed told the County Commission this morning. “Ultimately, the District Court of Appeals recently dismissed her claims as without merit. She claimed that there were due process violations. They found none. She alleged that there the fee award was excessive, which the appellate court denied. She also alleged among other things, that this was what–you may have heard this before–a Slap suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Those are discouraged. The Attorney General pointed out that the suit against Ms. Weeks was not filed because of the exercise of her First Amendment rights but rather because of the statutory obligation of the Attorney General to sue because of her non payment of the prior judgment. So those cases are at an end.”
Weeks had sought to have the cases dismissed. As was her habit when contesting even so much as her budget appropriations before the County Commission years ago, Weeks entombed the court system with filings in attempts top make her case. The appeals court docket in her two cases include a filing of over 1,000 pages. Her initial appeals brief was limited to 21 pages, however. She again makes startling claims. “Flagler County Board of County Commissioners has demonstrated animus and malice toward the three citizens being sued,” she wrote, though her own animus had defined so much of her relationship with county officials when she was in office, and that in fact spurred on her complaints against them.
She complained about the “pejoratives heaped on Ms. Weeks and others engaged in First Amendment protected activity in filing ethics complaints.” She revived decade-old grudges, such as claiming that the commission refused to place her on the agenda while calling her derogatory names. She also revived previous, baseless accusations about “sabotaging elections” as she invoked either Nixon or the Federalist papers, quoted from The Atlantic, and cited many cases, as attorneys writing briefs always do (Weeks is not an attorney, though in her years as supervisor of elections she often publicly disputed attorneys on matter of law). The pleading also summarizes her unsuccessful attempts to move the case from Leon to Flagler.
Anita Patel, a senior assistant state attorney, answered in a brief half the size of Weeks’s, summing up the argument: “There was uncontroverted summary judgment evidence that Ms. Weeks had not paid any of the attorney’s fees and costs award.”
The State Attorney’s Office is entitled to recovering its own fees. “I don’t know if the attorney general is going to move for its fees in resisting those appeals. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Hadeed said.
In the related case against McDonald, who has either barely contested or generally ignored the proceedings (he said in the past that he considers them inapplicable), the judgement amount against him is $79,564. It increases by the statutory interest rate beginning at 6.83 percent per year and is adjusted annually by the Chief Financial Officer. The rounded amount McDonald currently owes, with interest, is $88,600. He continues to appear before the County Commission, the Palm Coast City Council and, less often, before the School Board, to lecture elected officials on probity, responsibility and good governance.
Scott Snead says
Do we really think that Mrs. Weeks is gonna pay these fines? For that matter of fact do we think that Dennis McDonald is gonna pay? Unfortunately, they will never pay. You know it, I know it, the media knows it and there you have it! It’s called Flimflam.
I’m assuming that liens have been placed on any property they own; if that’s the case, they will pay at some point, perhaps post mortis.
WOW, a lot of money to pay.
I would think if they don’t pay they get thrown in jail. They will find away to pay then won’t they.
Glad to see Kimmee back in the news….. Pay Up Kimmee….. you brought this on yourself.
Enough is enough. These buffoons have had their day(s) in court, time for the county to get serious. At a bare minimum, file liens on their properties. Get a judicial judgement against them; when they fail to pay, take possession of and sell their properties at a sheriff’s sale. Any monies received above the judgement amounts will be returned to the parties. They have exhausted all legal redress, it is now time for them to pay for their shenanigans.
Then again, the above actions would require the BOCC to act in the best interest of the taxpayers, an action to which they are not familiar.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
**The County was never a party to the lawsuit(s). Al Hadeed personally and Charlie Ericksen personally were.
**Al Hadeed, acting as a DEFENDANT got the original Plaintiff changed ( which is legally unheard of in history) from Kimberle Weeks , Constitutional Officer SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS to Kimberle Weeks individual person.
** Flagler County never spent a DIME other than to double pay Mark Heron who was paid by county’s insurance carrier and then sent another check 2 years later approved by Al Hadeed.
** Fact: Charlie Eriksen and Al Hadeed both personally awarded REIMBURSENENTS for costs from Kim Weeks ( personally after Hadeed got her changed to be personally liable) .
**BIGGEST FACT OF ALL** Neither Al Hadeed nor Charlie Ericksen spent one damn dime from their own pockets to be ordered ‘reimbursements’.ha
I tried my best and devoted much time and research to help Kim sort out this outrageous, abuse of legal authority ( in my lay opinion) for over a year but Kim has her ways of turning people off who try to help her and we are no longer on speaking terms but she in no ways deserves to have such a convoluted insane judgment against her. I doubt the Fla Supreme Court would ever uphold this total abuse of legal discretion ( again in my lay opinion as a former paralegal).
What scares me the most is how the courts today can get away with such rulings ( my opinion) . Don’t think the courts will deliver justice objectively; today’s word is ‘selective’ not ‘objective ( my opinion)
Peaches McGee says
This schlub isn’t worthy of our attention.
Pinky promise this is the last time she desecrates these pages?
Celia M Pugliese says
Peaches McGee is very easy for you and others here to insult and desecrate a good honest woman wife mother grandmother and former excellent Supervisor of Elections ( I can attest to that as I worked under her and also SOE Peggy Border before her that recruited me as clerk of precincts for elections in the mid nineties). You cowardly bash her from the obscurity of your hidden alias posts probably used as troll for those that are there to witch hunt her and also any of us that knowing the reality of the unjustice done defend her. Be careful what you wish for as what’s done to her can be intended again to anyone, including you all in this county and is called intimidation, censorship and worst! Typical of autocratic regimes! We sure should be ashame of what takes place in this county and for a long while.
Celia M Pugliese says
This time I have to totally disagree with FlaglerLive. Honest woman wife, mother and gradmother former SOE Kimberley Weeks and the other residents named have been unfairly accused and treated by the courts. Unjustice was served and over not keeping the code of silence and trying to uncover wrong doing by some in the FCBOCC. I believe even their Antislapp Florida Statute 768.295 was violated or totally overlooked during the legal proceedings: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.295.html. FCBOCC has a history of suing, descrediting or witch hunting Constitutional (meaning elected by the people) Officers like former Sheriff Manfre also endured over friviolous accusations involving a Departmental Informative Calendar for the residents and a business trip expenses while in office and on call, coincidentally both were Democrats and Kim won election and re-election by landslide, hardly seing in this county as most are elected by “small margins”. The county thru its legal team descredits who they see unfit to keep silent but them exempt themselves just by the execution of its seated powers worst doings than any of what Kim Weeks is accused off: https://flaglerlive.com/57865/memorial-hospital-deal-pt/
If this county does not redeem itself by stopping this accusations and unjustice done to an honest woman andd former SOE and end these demands from her will continue to be addressed as “The dirties little county in Florida” https://www.votersopinion.com/2016/11/27/the-dirtiest-little-county-in-florida-starring-tallahassee-lawyer-mark-herron-part-2/. Let it be known that as I still as registered Rep and enduring the display of an F…profane flag along a School Board Member candidate in our PC community of families and children. What does it tell us? I still take a stand to defend what is right and totally agree with Jane Gentile Youd on her detailed post above, of some of the invented, libelous accusations still intended to destroy the remaining life of former SOE Kim Weeks. She should have asked for witness protection before making any move otherwise this outreageous $170,000 unjustice plus the unavailability to be able self sustain again, loose her pension and health is what we are all exposed too as well.