On Friday, January 12, 2024, Jacksonville Florida Times-Union reported that St. Johns County Commissioner Krista Joseph filed a lawsuit against the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners and State Attorney R.J. Larizza.
According to the article, Commissioner Joseph had been censured by the Board last month for remarks she made during a commission meeting where she said developers were controlling the board. Joseph added that there was hope for change with elections coming up in less than nine months.
The lawsuit aims to clarify whether Joseph has the right to endorse efforts to unseat fellow commissioners Roy Alaimo and Henry Dean, who are both running for re-election in August. A report from lawyers hired by the county found that Joseph likely violated a state law preventing officials from interfering in elections. However, Joseph’s lawyer argued her right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution outweighs this state law.
Commission Chair Sarah Arnold defended the board’s decision to censure Joseph, stating she has to consider laws elected officials take an oath to follow. These laws were created to allow differing opinions while conducting government business.
As of now, no actions have been taken on the lawsuit which seeks a declaratory judgment affirming Joseph’s First Amendment rights.
Source: Jacksonville Florida Times-Union