Circuit Court Judge Margaret Hudson has thrown out three of the 12 counts levied against the former elections supervisor.
A circuit court judge has thrown out three of the 12 criminal charges levied against former Flagler County elections supervisor Kimberle Weeks.
Weeks is charged with surreptitiously recording people's conversations, including those of Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner and other state and local officials, and then distributing those recordings. A prosecutor said at previous hearing that Weeks made the recordings to "have leverage" over others, and released one of them — of a whispered conversation between County Attorney Al Hadeed and County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen — "to embarrass" the two officials.
At a hearing on March 24, Weeks' attorney, Joerg Jaeger, asked Judge Margaret Hudson to throw out several charges related to the distribution of that recording of Hadeed and Ericksen, which Weeks had played during a Sept. 12, 2014 public Canvassing Board meeting before distributing it. When Weeks played the recording at the meeting, Jaeger told the judge, Weeks made it a public record and could not be prosecuted for distributing it thereafter.
Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis, at the same hearing, called Jaeger's argument "too incredulous to make sense." "To say that if someone plays something unlawfully at a public hearing, it converts it into a public record. ... It just doesn’t make sense," Lewis said.
But Hudson, in a decision signed June 24, ruled in Weeks' favor.
"Playing the recording at this meeting made it part of the public record," she wrote in the decision. "As such, the subsequent disclosures of what occurred at this meeting was subject to being heard or viewed by the public and, therefore, cannot be the basis for criminal prosecution."
The three counts Hudson dismissed were the ones numbered seven, eight and nine, and pertained to the distribution of the recording to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, WNZF radio and to Dennis McDonald, a local who has run several times for political office and is now running for Palm Coast mayor. (View all of the original counts here.)
In another decision signed June 24, Hudson refused the defense's request to sever count 11 — in which Weeks is charged with disseminating a recording of Detzner and others by playing it for her aunt and uncle — from the main trial. Hudson had already ruled at the March 24 hearing to sever counts two and three, in which Weeks is charged with recording a conversation with the ex-wife of a man Weeks' daughter was dating, and with recording a conversation with a police officer heading a criminal investigation in which Weeks' son was a suspect.
Weeks is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 2:30 p.m. July 22.