Fielding’s public records trial postponed
Former Commissioner Ed Fielding won’t stand trial this month after all.
Originally set to begin today, the criminal trial was postponed at the request of Fielding’s attorney, Joshua Deckard, who told the court in his August 5 petition that a “serious physical ailment” sent Fielding to the hospital last month for a week.
As a result of his hospitalization, and a subsequent trip to the hospital emergency room, Fielding’s current health “affects and limits his ability to effectively participate and communicate with counsel during trial.”
He also said that Fielding would be unable to withstand the rigors of a trial expected to last from four to five days and asked for a postponement of at least two weeks.
Martin County Circuit Court Chief Judge Lawrence Mirman granted the postponement, without setting a date certain.
Fielding was charged with two misdemeanor counts of alleged violations of public records laws as the result of a grand jury indictment Nov. 28, 2017. Fielding allegedly failed to respond to a public records request Jan. 15, 2013, for all records and correspondence relating to the Lake Point Restoration project. On Feb. 7, 2013, Lake Point attorney Ethan Loeb submitted a public records request for all emailed correspondence between Fielding and Maggy Hurchalla, to be used as evidence in Lake Point’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against Martin County, the South Florida Water Management District and for tortious interference against Hurchalla.
One email was eventually turned over to Lake Point following a forensics examination of Fielding’s computer by the county’s IT department, according to court testimony in 2015. Fielding told the court then that he was not technologically sophisticated enough to understand how to conduct a thorough search of all folders.
Additional emails were turned over to Lake Point in 2015 following an additional court-ordered forensics search, according to court testimony. In the civil case, the county was sanctioned $502,000 for violating public records laws as the result of actions by three of its commissioners. One of those commissioners, Sarah Heard, was acquitted following a five-day trial in April after a jury was unable to convict her as charged.
Another former commissioner, Anne Scott of Jupiter Island, will stand trial in September on four counts of alleged public records violations.