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Nancy Smith

Judge Roby, Allow Me to Correct Maggy Hurchalla

August 2, 2018 - 10:45am
Maggy Hurchalla
Maggy Hurchalla

Maggy Hurchalla made me write this story. Her day in court sucked me in like a Venus flytrap.

This is election season. I had no intention of wading into any aspect of Hurchalla's maneuvers to protect her assets, or mining company Lake Point's attempt to collect the $4.4 million judgment it won against her.

But then -- if we are to believe reporter Jose Lambiet, writing a story on Tuesday's Martin County hearing in The Capitolist, environmental activist Hurchalla "claimed (she and her husband James) were 'defrauded' by the (Bank of America), but she didn’t sue because, she said ... (and, wait for it, here's where the Venus flytrap opens) ... 'I don’t sue everybody.'"

That's what she said. How could I not jump in and clarify the facts for Circuit Judge William Roby?

I Beg to DifferWhen Hurchalla told the court, "I don't sue everybody," either she has a very short memory or she means she only sues Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News and Martin County Currents Publisher Barbara Clowdus.

Because she certainly initiated legal action against the three of us last November. And all for a factual error that would have been corrected far more quickly with one phone call to any of us. All news organizations want to correct their errors. SSN and Currents are no exception. 

Who threatens suit before they ask a publication for a legitimate correction of fact? Who calls in the lawyers before the publication refuses to correct?

We did make a mistake by claiming Hurchalla was part of a grand jury's "criminal investigation for actions relating to the Lake Point operation ..." She was not part of a grand jury's criminal investigation. The mistake was neither intentional nor malicious, but it was a mistake all the same. See the correction here.

It is our opinion that correcting a factual error wasn't what Hurchalla and her law firm Littman, Sherlock & Heims, P.A. wanted. Rather, they wanted to force me to stop writing my opinion -- something former reporter and Hurchalla attorney Virginia Sherlock knows is protected speech. They wanted Barbara Clowdus to stop her Hurchalla court coverage, in both Currents and in SSN. They wanted to intimidate us, drive us off with the threat of a costly lawsuit so we would no longer cover or comment on Hurchalla news.

That's not going to happen.

You're welcome to read Howard Heims' letter of Nov. 20 on behalf of Hurchalla, and our First Amendment attorney L. Martin Reeder's Dec. 1 letter in reply. 

In more than 50 years in this business, as a reporter and as an editor, I've made mistakes, God knows. But when I have, I've always tried to correct them promptly and apologize publicly. My reputation depends on it. Only three times in all those years -- including this one -- was I threatened with a lawsuit. None of them got to court.

It's interesting to note that even after the correction and apology, Sherlock fired back a Dec. 11 letter to Reeder with a "fear of God" closing: "Mrs. Hurchalla intends to seek recovery of damages from Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Clowdus, the Sunshine State News and the Martin County Currents for continuing to disseminate false reports fueled by malice and willful disregard for the truth."

Hurchalla's hollow "I don't sue everybody" looks to me like an attempt to deceive a judge. I thought it was important to call her out for it.

 

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.

Comments

Nancy and Barbara, Thanks, again for your coverage of this ongoing issue with Hurchalla and the infinite three ...Heard, Fielding and Scott!!! Enough is enough as they sought to destroy our county!!! Progress is inevitable, and we will not become paved over!!! We all have an interest in our great county and hats off to the current “majority board” as they are receptive to “responsible growth” in our great communities!!! Law suits are not what we need as it wastes needed funds to enhance the Martin County that we love!!!! EGainey

If memory serves me correctly, Mrs Hurchalla was the county commissioner responsible, in the 1990’s that cost the residents of martin county tens of millions of dollars for the sick courthouse debacle! It seems that every time she tears her head it costs us taxpayers $$,$$$,$$$

Great article, Nancy! Spot on! Maggie's trial and subsequent enforcement of the judgment against her is proof positive that dishonesty and deception leads people like Maggie and her crew down a very slippery slope. #HeardCriminalIndictment, #FieldingCriminalIndictment, #ScottCriminalIndictment

Welcome to the "World of Civil Litigation" Nancy: It's a well practiced "sport" in our "Era of lawyer gluttony". The mere "threat" of litigation coerces the extortion of "settlement OR retraction". The ONLY "winners" are the "opposing lawyers" and their stilted practice of "billable minutes" ...(there is no compassion nor reason to their "ever onward surge" towards "settlement"), since neither side relishes "trial", therefore ONLY the lawyers profit, due to ever mounting 'legal fees' (almost always without EVER seeing the inside of a courtroom). Far too many lawyers "pumped out" of law schools producing a glut of 'practitioners' without the requisite workload anywhere to satisfy this phenomena. That's why so many become politicians attaching themselves to the "government mammary" until "death or corruption do them part"...

C Breeze you are absolutely correct, your summary is fair....having agreed with you, I am going straight to the doctor.

Hold Fast Nancy!

Well ... Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News, and Martin County Currents Publisher Barbara Clowdus ... definitely aren't "everybody". (Apparently, however, Smith and Clowdus do think they are "everybody". Terminal ego.)

Thank you, Nancy, for standing up for First Amendment rights!

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