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Former Sarasota City Commissioner Terry Turner won the dismissal of a Sunshine lawsuit Tuesday, regarding personal emails from 2012.
Sarasota Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 7 months ago

Judge dismisses Barfield Sunshine suit

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by: Alex Mahadevan Digital Editor

A Sunshine lawsuit paralegal Michael Barfield filed against former Sarasota City Commissioner Terry Turner is effectively dead.

On Tuesday, Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Charles Williams dismissed the third amended complaint with prejudice in a suit aimed at forcing Turner to release messages sent from his personal email address in connection with a 2012 ballot initiative. Barfield, who works with the group Citizens for Sunshine, alleged Turner’s emails regarding the push for a “strong city manager” referendum were public records.

“The dismissal with prejudice means that the complaint cannot be amended again and re-filed,” said City Attorney Robert Fournier in an email to commissioners. “So in effect the case here in the local Circuit Court is over.”

The lawsuit was originally bundled with a complaint that accused members of the Downtown Improvement District of using personal email accounts for city business. Turner had released a batch of personal emails pertaining to matters related to his duties on the city commission in October 2012, but Barfield claimed the messages pertaining to the ballot initiative should be public.

The city claimed that Turner was acting as a citizen, and not a commissioner, in his support of Citizens for a Better Sarasota, the group that successfully petitioned to get the “strong city manager” amendment on the ballot. “The court apparently agreed with this view,” Fournier said in the email.

Voters rejected the amendment by more than 2,000 votes. 

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