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Public records exemptions for county and city attorneys and clerk employees bills become law

Senior Editor Top Stories

Capitol buildingCounty and city attorneys and their deputies, and circuit court clerks, their deputies, and court clerk “personnel,” will receive additional protection from death threats and stalking under bills Gov. Ron DeSantis signed late Thursday.

DeSantis on June 13 signed HB 103, “Public Records, County and City Attorneys,” by Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, and HB 983, “Public Records, Circuit Court Clerks and Deputy Clerks, and Clerk Personnel,” by Democratic Rep. Dan Daley, a Coral Springs prosecutor.

HB 103 would create a public records exemption for county and city attorneys, and their deputies, that would shield from public view their names, home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and photographs.

The exemption would also shield the names, home addresses, phone numbers, photographs, dates of birth, and places of employment of their spouses and children, and the names and locations of the schools and daycares their children attend.

However, the Chapter 119 exemptions would no longer apply if any of the covered government lawyers becomes a candidate for public office.

In a statement of public necessity, the legislation notes that the responsibilities of the government lawyers “regularly involve legal enforcement proceedings,” that have led to “retribution and threats by defendants and other persons on numerous occasions.”

“Such attorneys have received death threats and emails from disgruntled persons advocating the murder of other attorneys. Other incidents have included the stalking of such attorneys and their spouses and children.”

HB 983 would create the same Chapter 119 exemptions to circuit court clerks, deputy clerks, “clerk personnel,” and their respective family members.

“Circuit court clerks, deputy clerks, and their personnel provide essential administrative and clerical support functions to the Florida circuit courts, including tracking and reviewing cases, working with pro se litigants, auditing child support payments, and processing and assisting with paperwork for protective injunctions,” according to a staff analysis.

In a statement of public necessity, HB 983 notes that court clerks and their deputies and court personnel “have received death threats, harassing telephone calls and emails, and threats of physical violence from disgruntled individuals,” and are in “danger of being physically or emotionally harmed or stalked.”

Both bills take effect July 1, 2024.

Under the Florida Constitution, the exemptions are set to expire in 2029, unless renewed by the Legislature.


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