STUART — Environmentalist and former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla mocked the court system and the developer who’s suing her as a jury of four men and four women, all of them white, was selected earlier today to decide whether Hurchalla should be liable for a part of $22 million in lost profits.
Developer Lake Point, which includes Miami billionaire philanthropist George Lindemann Jr. as investor, claims in its complaint Hurchalla interfered with a contract it had signed with Martin County to exploit a rock mine near Lake Okeechobee.
And, starting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Lake Point will try to prove Hurchalla, 77, the sister of former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, conspired with Martin County Commissioners Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding and former Commissioner Anne Scott to sour Lake Point’s relationship with the county and the South Florida Water Management District.
Lake Point recently settled similar lawsuits against the SFWMD and county, and Heard, Fielding and Scott were arrested and charged with several misdemeanor counts of failure by a public official to permit inspection of public records.
Their criminal trials over allegations they broke Florida law when they failed to surrender emails they exchanged with Hurchalla to Lake Point lawyers who requested them are scheduled for the end of the year.
In those emails found on the politicians’ private accounts, Hurchalla appeared to coach them on how to get out of the Lake Point contract.
Feeling cocky today at the courthouse, Hurchalla told us exclusively she doesn’t have $22 million and, should she lose, Lindemann would end up getting “two kayaks and an ancient Toyota.” Check out the video below:
Hurchalla’s sense of humor, however, obscured the fact her hijinx have already cost taxpayers $500,000 in fines and as much as $26.2 million for an out-of-court settlement that Lake Point reached with the county.
After Hurchalla entertained friends and reporters outside the courtroom, Judge William Roby empaneled a jury that, for the next two weeks, will hear arguments on whether Hurchalla should pay for her actions.
About 40 potential jurors were grilled this morning and into the afternoon until the eight were selected.
Some of the questions potential jurors were asked included whether they believe it is OK for government officials to conduct business on private email servers. Other questions suggested Hurchala’s defense would be based on her First Amendment right to free speech.
At one point, the would-be jurors were asked if they had a problem with former presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton, whose husband Bill Clinton hired Hurchalla’s sister Janet Reno to head the justice department when he was president.