Monday January 7, 2008

OK, I know this is supposed to be serious, and I’m sorry, but I find the idea of a politician not being able to keep a memo he wrote to himself secret hilarious.

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  1. Jared Beck    Mon Jan 7, 01:35 PM #  

    You’re right, it is an odd situation, and it has already produced some interesting case law on the issue of a “public record” which I have blogged about here

    The South Florida Lawyers Blog has a longer and incisive treatment of the public records issue here

  2. David    Mon Jan 7, 03:10 PM #  

    It wasn’t just notes for himself if enough people had been shown it for Related to demand to know what was in it as well. If it was just a memo for himself word of its existence never would have reached the ears of the parties it was about.

  3. Carlos Miller    Mon Jan 7, 03:53 PM #  


    I really don’t think it is that odd of a situation, especially in Florida where we have some of the strongest public record laws in the country.

    I don’t see how the memo that Sarnoff wrote to himself could be considered “mental impressions”, a term used in your blog.

    Once pen goes to paper, then it ceases to be a mental impression.

    And there is no question that this was done in Sarnoff’s capacity as a commissioner.

    As you might know, almost anything relating to a public official’s capacity as a public servant can be considered public record in the state of Florida, including personal phone messages left on a business line; personal emails sent to a business address; and personal appointments if they are maintained by a public-funded assistant.

    But this memo doesn’t even approach the question of whether or not it was related to his personal life or his job as a commissioner.

    Now whether the contents of the memo are accurate or whether Related has grounds to sue for defamation, well that’s another case altogether.

  4. alesh    Mon Jan 7, 03:59 PM #  

    But wait a second, it’s not like this is some sort of scribbling in a journal. It would seem to me that if writing a “memo to yourself” makes ANY sense, it makes sense as a rather lame way to get something into the public record. That being the case, why try to keep it secret?

  5. Carlos Miller    Mon Jan 7, 04:13 PM #  

    Because he probably didn’t expect to get sued by Related.

  6. Dave    Mon Jan 7, 04:30 PM #  

    As any lawyer knows, a “file memo” is meant to be a contemporaneous record of facts to serve as an aide memoir when and if you are called upon to recite these facts to a court or other official board of inquiry. Consequently, when you draft such a document you EXPECT it is a matter that will become public sooner or later. It is actually advisable to draft it in such circumstances. To believe it will never see the light of day is ludicrous. Especially if you are a public official. Since Mr. Sarnoff reported this matter to authorities at the time he wrote the memo, he had to be certain that the resulting investigation would eventually result in disclosure of its existence. It may be that AFTER he reported the incident he got cold feet and hoped it would all go away. But he certainly could not have expected that that was the most probable outcome. On the positive side, he has nothing to fear if it is a true summary of the facts. Truth is an absolute defense to any defamation action.

  7. Biscayne Bystander    Wed Jan 9, 10:07 AM #  

    I haven’t even seen the memo (anyone have a link to it?) but I strongly believe its validity. Where are all the affordable housing allocations which the city could have imposed on these developers? Ultimately the people Spence-Jones is supposed to represent got screwed in the boom. Before people question why Sarnoff wrote a memo to himself, we really should be examining the message. A

    Carlos, Related is going around suing everyone that gets in the way of Jorgies quest for Trump’ness.

  8. NicFitKid    Wed Jan 9, 04:21 PM #  


    Here’s the link to the memo (PDF). Jared Beck has it in the blog post he linked in the first comment of this thread.