Ethics, Public Records, and Government in the Sunshine Law
The Woodring Law Firm has significant experience with the state ethics requirements and Florida ethics laws, and Public Records and Government in the Sunshine laws. Mr. Woodring has provided legal advice on these topics at the highest levels of Florida government, and has litigated significant cases covering these legal areas.
If you are a state or local government employee, an elected official, a state officer, or sit on a governmental board or counsel, you need to pay close attention to the laws and regulations that establish the ethical requirements for your position. If an ethical complaint is filed against you- under some circumstances the governmental entity will provide an attorney to represent you, but in many situations you will be responsible for obtaining your own counsel, even when you may later to entitled to a reimbursement of fees for obtaining your own legal counsel.
We can represent you in defending any complaints that are filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics, whether before the Commission, or in a DOAH hearing before an administrative law judge, or on appeal to the District Courts of Appeal. We do not take all ethics cases, but if you have been wrongfully accused, we would definitely like to discuss your case with you. We often can also help with litigating or defending against an award of attorney fees based on the outcome of an ethics complaint.
Public Records and Government in the Sunshine
Florida has one of the broadest public records laws, Chapter 119, Florida Statues, and open government or Government in the Sunshine Laws, Chapter 286, in the country. Even so at last count, there are over a 1,000 exemptions from the public records laws, and this does not count the situations in which the state law may be trumped by a federal requirement. Depending on the merits, we will represent both individuals and businesses attempting to obtain public records, and governmental agencies responding to public records requests. If you work for a governmental agency, the Attorney General will usually not represent you regarding a public records request.
The Government in the Sunshine Law requirements relate to when meetings need to be open and noticed, and when members of a governmental body can discuss a matter outside of a noticed meeting. We will challenge or defend actions on behalf of clients as being conducted according to the government in the sunshine laws, depending on the merits of the case. If a governmental entity has not followed the Government in the Sunshine requirements, actions they have taken in violation of the these sunshine requirements may be void.
Please talk to us if you need counsel on an ethical matter or need to prosecute or defend a case under the Public Records or Government in the Sunshine laws. Under some situations a prevailing party may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees.