An appeals court Friday overturned a ruling that would have required a Brevard County economic-development agency to turn over records to the county clerk of courts.
A circuit judge ruled that the Economic Development Commission of the Space Coast, Inc., which contracts with the county, is subject to the state’s public-records law. But a three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned that decision and sent the case back to the circuit judge for additional consideration.
Brevard County Clerk Scott Ellis filed a lawsuit after unsuccessfully seeking records from the commission about a company called BlueWare, which was embroiled in a high-profile criminal case. Friday’s ruling said the circuit judge did not use a proper legal test in determining that the commission is subject to the public-records law.
Brevard County pays $1.4 million each year to the commission for marketing and economic-development recruiting, though the commission also provides services for other local entities that are not part of county government.
“In this case, Brevard County contracted with EDC to serve as the county’s primary, not its sole, agent for economic development activity,” said the ruling, written by appeals-court Judge James Edwards and joined by judges Kerry Evander and T.R. Perkins. “The county continued to carry out economic development activities itself through its own paid county employees and in conjunction with other entities to the exclusion of EDC.”
News Service of Florida