Man Can Sue for Sanford Talks With Zimmerman

     (CN) – A Florida appeals court revived a citizen’s demand that Sanford officials produce the original copy of an email between George Zimmerman and the city’s volunteer program coordinator.
     Robert Chandler asked the Sanford Police Department’s volunteer program coordinator for an original copy of an email the coordinator sent to Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer.
     Zimmerman was involved in a nationally publicized trial involving the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. He was found not guilty in July.
     The city produced a copy of the email, but Zimmerman’s email address had been redacted. Chandler complained, and the city responded that the state’s attorney had redacted the email address and sent a PDF file of the email to the city, purportedly for public records requests.
     Chandler filed a petition for a writ of mandamus against the city, but the trial court dismissed it, ruling that Chandler should direct his petition to the state’s attorney.
     However, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Daytona Beach reversed the ruling, stating that the lower court should not have dismissed Chandler’s petition.
     “Given the aggressive nature of the public’s right to inspect and duplicate public records, a governmental agency may not avoid a public records request by transferring custody of its records to another agency,” Judge Heather Pinder Rodriguez wrote for the court.
     “While the court is sympathetic that the city was placed between a proverbial ‘rock and a hard place,’ the city cannot be relieved of its legal responsibility for the public records by transferring the records to another agency,” she added.
     “We decline to address the other issues argued in the trial court proceedings and on appeal, including the asserted exemptions, the alleged delays in producing the electronic records, and the form in which they were produced.”
      The appeals court remanded the case to the lower court for further action.

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