Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued two rulings last week related to former County Commissioner Rudy Maloy’s request for reimbursement for attorney’s fees.
In the case Rudy Maloy vs. Board of County Commissioners, the appellate court ruled in favor of Leon County. The court affirmed the trial court’s order which stated that Maloy’s conduct in this case did not serve a public purpose and the Board of County Commissioners properly considered and rejected Maloy’s request for reimbursement in accordance with the county’s policy.
Maloy had requested the County reimburse him approximately $190,000 for Maloy’s attorney’s fees associated with his defense against a 2001 ethics complaint. The complaint alleged he violated Florida laws for improper solicitation and acceptance of gifts in the form of sexual favors from his aide, and misused his public position. Maloy had prevailed in the ethics case, at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) level.
In the case Leon County vs. Stephen S. Dobson, III, P.A., the First District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Dobson. This case arose from a request by Dobson on behalf of Maloy for reimbursement of attorney’s fees and expenses in excess of $338,000 in connection with a criminal investigation and subsequent criminal prosecution of Maloy by the State Attorney’s Office.
The criminal case ended in an acquittal after a trial on four misdemeanor counts, alleging improper reimbursement for expenses related to travel while employed by the Florida Department of Transportation, as President of the Florida Association of Counties, and as a Leon County commissioner.
In an effort to protect the public’s best interest, the Board of County Commissioners denied the request and Dobson sued, asking the court for his fees in defending the criminal case and the fees for attorneys Dobson hired in defending this case, plus interest, totaling in excess of $825,000.
The appellate court found that Maloy’s legal fees should be reimbursed by the public because his actions arose out of his official duties while he served a public purpose; however, the court ruled that Leon County is only responsible for reimbursing only a portion of the amount of the initial fees incurred, which is approximately $238,000.00, as the Florida Association of Counties already paid $100,000 toward these fees.