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Date of Issue: April 07, 2010

Barfield to seek more of Stoltzfus in suit

Attorney Valerie Fernandez, representing government watchdog/legal consultant Michael Barfield of Sarasota, said this week she plans to file a writ of mandamus in Manatee County Circuit Court against Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus.

A mandamus filing is generally acted on promptly by the courts and it compels someone to execute a duty that he or she is legally required to fulfill.

Fernandez said the writ will ask the judge to compel Stoltzfus as a public official to turn over all his public records and, in this case, the hard-drive of his computer.

Stoltzfus has turned over four groups of e-mails relating to public business that were first requested by Barfield March 10. The first was 97 records, and the most recent was 1,900-plus pages March 31.

But Fernandez said some e-mails likely related to public business appear to be missing.

She said the only way to determine if all public records held by Stoltzfus have been delivered under the public records request is to obtain the commissioner’s computer hard drive.

“We will ask for an emergency hearing on the hard-drive issue,” Fernandez said.

Even if a court does not set an emergency hearing, the court will issue a “show cause” order to Stoltzfus that will require his response, she said.

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