Hillsborough County Text Messaging For building permits.

Florida Appeals Court: Texts With Husband Not Public Records

An appeals court Wednesday said text messages that a South Florida city commissioner exchanged with her husband during a commission meeting are not public records.

A panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned a circuit judge’s ruling that the November 2020 text messages between Sunny Isles Beach City Commissioner Dana Goldman and her husband were subject to the state’s public-records law.

A resident, Jeanette Gatto, filed a public-records request after Goldman was seen texting during a commission meeting held online. Ultimately, Gatto filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County circuit court. A circuit judge ruled that texts between Goldman and her husband and texts between Goldman and another resident, Andrey Ryzhichkov, were public records.

The city and Goldman appealed the part of the ruling that involved the texts between the commissioner and her husband. Wednesday’s seven-page decision said the texts between Goldman and her husband “did not possess the attributes of official business” and, as a result, were not public records.

“Goldman’s text messages with her husband … were uniformly personal and private and were not made in connection with any business transacted by the city,” said the decision, written by Judge Edwin Scales and joined by Judges Fleur Lobree and Alexander Bokor. “In contrast with her texts to and from Ryzhichkov, Goldman was not acting in her official capacity as a city commissioner when texting with her husband. Nor did her husband step out of his role as husband and adopt the role of a citizen either seeking to enter a city process or to transact city business.”

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