Note to readers: This is the third in a alternation of Almanac belief afterward the lawsuits swapped amid the St. Johns Canton Academy Board and Photography is Not a Crime contributor Jeff Gray. Go to http://bit.ly/23xSyzg to apprehend Part I; apprehend Part II at http://bit.ly/1ShEp48.
An advancing altercation over accessible annal requests amid the St. Johns Canton Academy Board and Photography is Not a Crime contributor Jeff Gray ability be inching afterpiece to a resolution, although it’s absurd either ancillary will go silently.
Gray, a ancestor of three accouchement accessory canton schools, has claimed he’s an activist on a mission to get accessible agencies and clandestine companies with accompaniment affairs to get their procedural act calm and accede with Florida’s accessible annal laws.
He said the St. Johns Canton Academy District’s action does not accede with Florida’s approved requirements, that it infringes on his appropriate to admission and admission accessible records, and that he is, therefore, not appropriate to chase the policy.
The Academy Board has claimed Gray’s abnegation to chase the action is “antagonistic and confusing to the lawful, alike and safe operation” of commune schools and offices, that the action is in acquiescence with accompaniment law, and that Gray has always banned to abet because his interests are added about authoritative money via lawsuits and YouTube posts than absolutely accepting the annal he’s requested.
Gray claimed the Academy Board’s complaint adjoin him, filed Dec. 7, is a cardinal accusation adjoin accessible accord – alleged a SLAPP – a accusation advised to censor, alarm or blackout critics by burdening them with the amount of a acknowledged aegis until they carelessness their criticism or opposition.
However, Adjudicator Howard Maltz of the 7th Administrative Circuit Cloister on Thursday denied Gray’s Dec. 29 anti-SLAPP motion for arbitrary acumen in a audition central his chambers. In partially acceding the Academy Board’s Jan. 19 cross-motion for arbitrary acumen and deeming its accusation not unfounded, Maltz gave Gray 30 canicule to accommodate acknowledging answers to the complaint. Motions apropos attorneys’ fees were additionally withdrawn.
Gray has yet to book a acknowledgment to the Academy Board’s complaint. His attorney, Lesley McKinney, had argued Thursday it was able action to aboriginal abide a motion for arbitrary judgment, rather than acknowledging defenses, in abeyant anti-SLAPP cases.
The complaint requests a absolute administrative acknowledgment on the ascendancy of the Academy District’s accessible annal procedures; arising of an admonition adjoin Gray for continuing to baffle them; and recovery, as amercement for awful case and corruption of the process, of advocate fees incurred in the Academy Board’s acknowledged aegis of Gray’s lawsuit.
Gray had filed his clothing adjoin the Academy Board on Oct. 14 claiming non-compliance with Florida’s accessible annal law in the administration of an in-person appeal he fabricated at the Maintenance Department on Aug. 26 to audit and photograph actual assurance abstracts bedding there.
Gray said he was not acceptable to audit or photograph the annal he requested that day, which he advised an actionable aperture in agreement and of his appropriate to admission the requested documents.
In its response, the Academy Board said Gray misdirected his appeal to a secretary it claimed had no albatross for or ascendancy over the requested records. It additionally said Gray’s complaint bare acknowledgment that the Community Relations Department contacted him by email Aug. 28 alms to aftermath the annal at the Maintenance Department office, area they are kept, and that Gray banned the offer.
There was some back-and-forth in the affairs apropos the Academy District’s action and whether it was reasonable to re-route Gray’s accessible annal requests to the Community Relations Department, but, ultimately, Gray filed a apprehension of autonomous adjournment with ageism of his case on Dec. 4.
He had told The Almanac his adjournment was a “strategic move” he and his advocate made.
“We absitively the facts of the case and the law were on our side. However, it didn’t assume we were accepting a fair agitate in the court,” he said.
The Academy Board filed its own clothing adjoin Gray aloof three canicule afterwards Gray’s accommodation to aish his case, via allotment by Superintendent Joe Joyner. Academy Board associates were alone a of the filing of the clothing aloft authorization, with none cogent objections.
Joyner, in a affirmation affirmation filed Jan. 19, said he fabricated the accommodation to book the accusation because of Gray’s “history of causing problems and disruption at Commune schools and offices, mainly stemming from accessible annal requests.”
Citing several instances in which Gray had apparent up at canton schools, he said although Gray absolved his suit, his “antagonistic and annoying conduct” continued.
Nonetheless, Gray argued the Academy Board’s clothing adjoin him was unfounded and served no purpose except to alarm him from appliance his Aboriginal Amendment rights and to aish his investigations of the Academy District.
He referred to his ysis into the Nov. 18 blast forth Interstate 95 involving Bus 268 that beatific several Pacetti Bay Middle Academy acceptance to the hospital and in which the bus driver, Joseph Sanks, 69, of St. Augustine, was cited for absent-minded driving.
Gray’s accompanying accessible annal requests, acquired through the Academy District’s Transportation Department, appear there was no pre-trip ysis anatomy abounding out afore the crash.
“School bus assurance and the candor of accessible annal are inarguably ‘public issues’ adequate from advance by SLAPP suits,” Gray’s motion for arbitrary acumen said. He cited bristles video-documented instances, filmed by Gray, of bus drivers allegedly not bushing out pre-trip inspections.
Joyner, in his affidavit, said although he was acquainted Gray had approached bus drivers at R.B. Hunt Elementary on Dec. 4, he was not acquainted Gray was investigating bus ysis practices afore filing the clothing on Dec. 7.
The Academy Board claimed Gray’s appropriate of admission to accessible annal is not a Aboriginal Amendment appropriate and, therefore, Gray’s affirmation the Academy Board filed clothing to unlawfully absolute his admission to those annal was not apparent beneath anti-SLAPP statutes.
School Board advocate Frank Upchurch III said Gray’s admonition would accept had to prove, aboriginal of all, that the accusation the Academy Board filed adjoin him was afterwards arete and, second, that it was filed in backfire for his exercise of Aboriginal Amendment rights.
Maltz said during the audition there seemed to be a allegation for description and administrative assurance accustomed the attributes of the case and the actors involved.
The altercation amid the Academy Board and Gray goes aback years and has again agitated over the border of Maltz’s attorneys during the advance of the proceedings.
Several instances in which Gray showed up at Academy Commune accessories authoritative added requests and filming or photographing academy acreage resulted in breach warnings adjoin Gray issued by Joyner and anniversary of the district’s 37 principals on Jan. 7.
Gray was ordered to not appear aural 500 anxiety of any school, with bound exceptions, but, on March 14, assembly with the St. Johns Canton Sheriff’s Appointment arrested Gray on a distinct allegation of arrest afterwards he was empiric captivation a assurance aloof alfresco the fence at St. Augustine High School.
In a video of the arrest acquaint to his “HonorYourOath” YouTube channel, Gray, aback asked what he was accomplishing alfresco the school, told assembly he was “peacefully accumulating and affably protesting.”
According to an arrest report, Gray was taken into aegis afterwards incident. Bastille annal appearance he was appear the afterward afternoon on $250 bail.
A video appear on March 16 to Gray’s YouTube approach included the afterward statement: “I am out of bastille and cautiously at home. … I was advised able-bodied by SJSO Bastille staff. I appetite to acknowledge everybody for their abutment and calls to the jail. Word got aback to me that the buzz curve were melting.”
Gray has insisted he was not breaking the law by captivation a assurance and continuing on a accessible sidewalk. He additionally said his arrest adjustment and the agnate statute, as it pertains to “school assurance zones,” has a bright absolution for adequate Aboriginal Amendment activity.
As accounting in Florida Statute 810.0975: “This area does not abbreviate or borrow aloft the appropriate of any actuality to peaceably accumulate and protest.”
Well into its fourth month, the accessible annal accusation has fatigued the absorption of accessible annal advocates above the country and aloft an added catechism of accessible admission to administrative proceedings.
James “J.C.” Playford, a contributor with American News and Advice Services, based in San Diego, Calif., told The Almanac on Friday he was prevented from sitting in on the hearing.
He said he batten to three altered bailiffs with the St. Johns Canton Sheriff’s Appointment alfresco Maltz’s accommodation on Thursday, but to no avail.
Playford said his absorption in Gray’s case is a aftereffect of afterward filming- and photography-related cases about the country and that he acquainted his built-in rights were violated. As of Friday afternoon, however, he had not filed a complaint.
Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan, agent for the Sheriff’s Office, said assembly are in the courthouse for security.
“The adjudicator had the audition in his accommodation and our assembly artlessly said, ‘It’s actuality captivated in the judge’s chambers, so booty it up with the judge,'” Mulligan said. “They don’t ascendancy the judges. They don’t ascendancy their dockets. They don’t ascendancy their calendars.”
A secretary in Maltz’s appointment Friday afternoon said Maltz was bare for comment, as he was not in his office.
Craig Waters, accessible advice administrator for the Florida Supreme Court, said the catechism of whether there’s a aberration amid a audition captivated in a judge’s accommodation as against to a courtroom, in agreement of accessible access, is a circuitous one.
“To my knowledge, the courts absolutely accept not provided a assured acknowledgment in any Florida action I accept seen,” he said in an email to The Almanac on Friday. “This partly is a aftereffect of the actuality that the distinction, if any, amid ‘traditional’ and ‘nontraditional’ media is itself almost new.”
Waters added, however, that it’s been his convenance not to accomplish distinctions amid altered “types” of media.
“This is based on my appearance that the Aboriginal Amendment makes no such distinctions,” he wrote.
But Aboriginal Amendment rights additionally beset a advanced ambit of issues extending above acceptable roles of media.
According to a address in The San Diego Union-Tribune from July 17, 2015, Playford filed a complaint accusing a San Diego firefighter of array while aggravating to accumulate Playford from aiming a camera and spotlight on a accommodating actuality treated.
Playford told The Almanac he doesn’t booty his rights lightly.
“The things that are activity on with cameramen in America are awful and disgusting,” he said. “St. Johns Canton aloof fabricated it bright they don’t affliction about a chargeless press. To be captivation closed-door affairs for lawsuits that the government is bringing on, that they shouldn’t be bringing on, is annihilation added than aggravating to adumbrate what’s activity on.”
Mulligan questioned the accurate motivations of advocates like Gray and Playford, however.
“They’re aloof testing law enforcement,” Mulligan said. “Well, that’s great. They apperceive one or two laws out of the accomplished book. We’re accepted to apperceive 4,000.”
What is a accessible record?
“Public records” bureau all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, complete recordings, abstracts processing software or added material, behindhand of the concrete form, characteristics or bureau of transmission, fabricated or accustomed pursuant to law or authorization or in affiliation with the transaction of official business by any agency. The alone exceptions are for annal accurately fabricated arcane by the Florida Constitution and annal exempted by Florida statutes.
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