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South Bay commissioner’s Sunshine Law trial pushed back to September

by George Bennett | June 5th, 2013

Shirley Walker-Turner

South Bay City Commissioner Shirley Walker-Turner‘s trial on charges she violated Florida’s open-meetings law has been pushed back to September because of her attorney’s health.

If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, Walker-Turner would likely be removed from office by Gov. Rick Scott. Scott suspended Walker-Turner and two other South Bay elected officials in December when they were charged with violating the Sunshine Law. After Walker-Turner won a special election last month, Scott reinstated her pending the outcome of the Sunshine Law case.

Walker-Turner was scheduled to go on trial before Judge August Bonavita this morning. But her attorney, Jeffrey Weiner, filed a motion this week saying he expects to undergo surgery this week or next week and cannot try the case.

Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Michael Dutko did not oppose the motion.

Walker-Turner’s trial is now set for Sept. 18.

The Sunshine Law requires public officials to conduct public business in public. Walker-Turner and commissioners John Wilson and Linda Johnson were charged with agreeing in private meetings to approve a $25,139 payment to former city manager Corey Alston for unused vacation time. The three elected officials never huddled together, but prosecutors said Alston acted as a “conduit” through a series of one-on-one conversations with each official.

Johnson was found guilty in a March trial and Wilson entered a guilty plea last month. Walker-Turner pleaded not guilty. She has said she had private conversations with Alston about his vacation pay but “at no time did he tell me what Wilson or Johnson had stated on an issue.”

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