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.
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.
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.
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.