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Chief Judge Donald Moran

Submitted by Susan Hardee Steger

On December 18, Chief Judge Donald Moran appeared before the Nassau County Board of Commissioners to address concerns in the aftermath of the legal dispute between Judges Moran and Foster and Nassau County Clerk John Crawford over a $4,500 payment to mediate a  divorce case.   In November, Florida’s 1st Court of Appeals issued a “Per Curiam Denied.” ruling against Crawford.  The legal costs associated with Crawford’s decision to appeal Judge Moran’s court order for payment appears to be climbing from the initial $85,000 cost. According to  Board Chair Danny Leeper, legal fees and county costs are now close to $100,000.

After first thanking the board  for their support, Judge Moran summarized the discussions between Moran and Crawford prior to Crawford’s legal action. The following video is of Judge Moran expressing his frustrations over Crawford’s actions.

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Following Judge Moran’s comments, Nassau County Board Chair Danny Leeper delivered remarks to the “empty chair,” noting County Clerk Crawford’s absence from the meeting.

 

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When asked by Commissioner Walter Boatright what the  board could do to avoid future issues, Judge Moran said, “Your system of governance that you have in this community is in my opinion is kind of antiquated.”  He described the current system as one that allows “unfettered discretion and no oversight.” “To pick somebody to be in charge [Clerk] and to have that kind of authority and his only requirement is to be an elector of the county, then we don’t have the checks and balances we all try to have,” says Moran.

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Judge Robert Foster

Circuit Court Judge Robert Foster then addressed the board.  He expressed his hope to “put differences [with Clerk] aside and move forward.”  Judge Foster explained the significance  of the 1st District Court’s ruling “Per Curium (Latin for whole court) Denied.”  According to Foster, the court agrees that “the issue brought by the moving party [Clerk] was totally without merit.”  The absence of a written opinion according to Foster was because the court did not believe “there is any significant reason to write an opinion.”

To view the entire exchange between commissioners and Judges Moran and Foster, click here. The remarks begin at 3:25 minutes.

December 18, 2013 7:18 p.m.

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Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger
8 years ago

Thank you for informing the citizens in a clear and unbiased way about this issue. I am really appalled at the arrogance of Clerk Crawford to spend the tax-payers’ money on his personal vendetta. Can we impeach him?

Flo
Flo
8 years ago
Reply to  Co Editor

With many thanks to you for your coverage of the clerk’s prolonged, reckless mismanagement of public funds. Your videos of the 2 sides meeting in court were exceptionally good, as are these of the commission meeting. Without a public outcry, without regional press demanding restitution, without petitions calling for his resignation, this will become a footnote. If the public is passive, the clerk will win a “re-election” of sorts.

Meanwhile, here’s some interesting weekend reading: https://www.flclerks.com/clerk_role.html

Flo Ingram
Flo Ingram
8 years ago

” ‘He described the current system as one that allows unfettered discretion and no oversight. To pick somebody to be in charge [Clerk] and to have that kind of authority and his only requirement is to be an elector of the county, then we don’t have the checks and balances we all try to have,’ says Judge Moran.”

How did any Nassau County clerk’s benefits package come to include freedom from accountability? Better question: how, and how fast can we curb unchecked powers of the clerk’s office? If this guy had the moral core to feel shame or sorrow for mishandling funds he was supposed to steward, he’d write a check for the $100K he took from the taxpayers and clip it to his resignation letter.

Rick
Rick
8 years ago
Reply to  Flo Ingram

Couldn’t agree more! A deduction from his paycheck
would be a weekly reminder of his arrogance.

Judy
Judy
8 years ago

It truly is a sad day when the man who prides himself on being the county watchdog spends approximately $100,000 in an attempt to prove that he is right and the county board of commissioners, their attorney, and two judges are wrong. He truly believed he was right and was going to prove it. When in fact, three additional judges have also agreed that he was wrong. So much so that they did not believe it even warranted an explanation. This is the same man who made a huge deal out of spending $50 for candy to be given to children during shrimp festival weekend. $100,000 sure could have bought a lot of candy! By the way the commissioners personally paid for the candy. Mr. Crawford should personally pay for his attorney. If he was truly only seeking a legal opinion from the court, as opposed to trying to prove himself right and others wrong, he could have, and should have, used his staff attorney.

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