Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Complaints Flow Freely at Duval Courthouse; Moran Wants Administrator Fired; Others Wonder, Why Now?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Complaints Flow Freely at Duval Courthouse; Moran Wants Administrator Fired; Others Wonder, Why Now?

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL PINKHAM

For years, the top administrator at the Duval County Courthouse survived complaints of workplace verbal abuse and harassment, reported to the chief judge.

He survived documented allegations of stalking his neighbors since 2004, also reported to the chief judge.

More recently, he survived the chief judge's criticism of his role in two unpopular courthouse firings in December.

Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran finally called a meeting Thursday of the 54 judges in the circuit, seeking authority to fire Court Administrator Britt Beasley. They voted overwhelmingly to give him that authority.

But some judges say the timing of the meeting may have had more to do with an unprecedented ethics complaint filed with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission against Moran by a fellow judge. The complaint includes an allegation that Beasley felt physically threatened by Moran.

The chief judge denied at the closed meeting that he was retaliating against Beasley, according to three judges who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Moran refused to comment Friday.

Beasley, who has run day-to-day operations at the courthouse since 1990, is on leave from the $120,000-a-year post.

Beasley, 56, told the Times-Union on Friday only that he intended to retire.

According to the judges who spoke to the newspaper, Beasley denied all allegations at Thursday's meeting.

Three female employees told the judges about years of verbal abuse and harassment by Beasley. The latest episode was brought to Moran's attention Feb. 11.

The judges said they also heard about stalking allegations involving Beasley's neighbors starting in 2004 and documented by Clay County deputies. Moran has known about the stalking allegations against Beasley since 2006, according to a Clay County Sheriff's Office report. The report says Beasley repeatedly taunted, harassed and stalked his neighbors in a gated community near Fleming Island after a 2004 dispute about sod. …

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