A hearing date set for the city’s suit against Duval Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller. And depending on the outcome, it could wind up costing you money.
The city claims a recent state Supreme Court ruling dealing with Broward County nullifies one dealing with Jacksonville. The Jacksonville case had overruled term limits approved by the voters in 1992, limiting certain city officials to two consecutive four year terms.
The 1992 referendum was never removed from the books, so when the ruling came down, Jacksonville said the officers should be subject to term limits.
The ruling most immediately affects Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller, who is campaigning for his fourth term in office.
“If I thought I was doing something wrong, I wouldn’t run to begin with,” he says.
He has interpreted the ruling a different way. He says the South Florida ruling deals with constitutional officers who are different than him. He says he is considered a judicial officer which means he deal solely with the courts, unlike other officers, such as the Sheriff.
He says there is a potentially long legal fight ahead, expecting this to move all the way to the state Supreme Court, possibly in two or three years.
A pre-trial hearing Monday morning set the official hearing date for August 7. This is a few days after the start of early voting and only a few days ahead of the primary election where Fuller is running against another Republican candidate.
If he is successful in this run and again in the general election, and the court later finds in favor of the city, there would need to be a special election to replace Fuller. If that occurs it would cost taxpayers about $2 million.
Fuller says blame for that falls on the city, who waited until now to file.
“If they thought that I shouldn’t have been on the ballot, why didn’t they file this lawsuit way before the ballots were written? It’s the city’s fault not mine,” he says.
The Office of the General Counsel told us it is the city’s full discretion to decide when to press forward in a matter like this, but would not speak to the reasoning behind this decision.
He thinks after this battle, the city should examine if term limits are still favored by the voters, but we can’t necessarily expect the feeling among voters to be the same now.
The Sheriff and Property Appraiser are also currently serving their third terms.