Monday, February 8, 2010

Florida Supreme Court To Review Powers Of Clerks Of Court

The Florida Supreme Court entered an order today accepting jurisdiction in the case of Board of County Commisssioners of Collier County v. Brock, et al (SC09-2190).  The order can be viewed HERE.  The Supreme Court also entered THIS order which stayed the entry of the mandate by the Second District.  Justice Labarga dissented from the Court's order staying the Second District's mandate, however, the decision to accept jurisdiction was unanimous.  The summary of the argument in the brief on jurisdiction is copied below:
This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(3) of the Florida Constitution because it expressly affects two classes of constitutional officers in all 67 Florida counties -- the Florida boards of county commissioners and the Florida clerks of court. The decision expressly expands the scope of powers that the Clerk has and expressly limits the scope of powers that the Board has. The decision also conflicts with this Court's opinion in Alachua County v. Powers, 351 So. 2d 32 (Fla. 1977).
This ruling is one of first impression and uses a statutory public banking scheme under Fla. Stat. Chapter 136.01 et seq. to enlarge the power of county clerks to include post-audit power as to discretionary spending decisions made by boards of county commissioners and does not appear to limit the types of audits that may be performed. No limits have been set as to this power, nor has “postpayment audit” been defined by the decision. The District Court justifies this decision, A-6, as being needed to “tests existing internal controls;” however, what is patently unclear is who’s internal controls need to be tested; the Board’s or the Clerk’s?
This Court should exercise its discretion to accept jurisdiction and review the Second District's decision because that decision significantly impacts boards of county commissioners and clerks across the state, conflicts with the historical constitutionally and statutorily authorized functions and powers of boards and clerks, and creates a considerable conflict of interest for clerks. Indeed, the danger of that conflict of interest has been emphasized by the U.S. Supreme Court. 
The relevant documents in this case are below:


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