ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — St. Johns County Republican Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph has withdrawn a federal lawsuit she filed in January against four other Republican County Commissioners, but “action remains pending against” State Attorney R. J. Larizza.
In that lawsuit, Joseph claimed her First Amendment rights were violated.
Action News Jax told you in January about a 15-page “Treadwell Report,” which stated Joseph likely broke the law by campaigning during a November BOCC meeting and violated the rules for behavior, which led her to be censured at the next meeting on Dec. 5.
The BOCC filed a motion on Thursday to dismiss Joseph’s complaint, stating that “no actual controversy exists” between her and the BOCC and that her filling the lawsuit was her seeking, “an advisory opinion from the Court to aid her in crafting future, undefined, political comments.”
The next day, Friday, Joseph’s attorney filed a notice of dismissal, stating “that the board has backed away from its outside counsel’s legal opinion that Commissioner Joseph committed a crime by her political speech,” and that “there appears to remain no live controversy” between her and the BOCC.
Commissioner Christian Whitehurst responded to Action News Jax’s Ben Becker on the assertion that Joseph did not break the law:
“She can say that, but nobody from the County had given her any indication that she has not broken the law. In fact every conversation I’ve had with any attorney is conclusive that she did in fact break the law.”
The “Treadwell Report” stated that Joseph’s actions could lead to a civil penalty or even be referred to the State Attorney’s Office for further consideration of a criminal charge.
Joseph and the other board members have repeatedly clashed over numerous issues, including the forced resignation of former St. Johns County Administrator Hunter Conrad and the rapid increase of housing developments in the county.
Larizza is the State’s Attorney for the 7th Judicial Circuit representing St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, and Volusia counties. A spokesperson from the office declined to comment about the lawsuit when it was originally filed in January.
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BOCC motion to dismiss complaint:
Notice of dismissal: