By: Barbara Clowdus, Sunshine State News
Environmental activist Maggy Hurchalla's appeal of a $4.3 million judgment by a Martin County jury on Feb. 14 has not gone well for her. At least, not until now.
Now Hurchalla, a former longtime county commissioner and one of Martin County's most prominent citizens, says she has evidence the jury foreman in the Lake Point Restoration tortious interference case against her was not a Martin County resident, as required by law -- grounds for a mistrial.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal has denied or dismissed most of Hurchalla's motions, including a previous request for a new trial, in a case she lost in Martin County Circuit Court.
Lake Point claimed Hurchalla had lied to county commissioners about destroying wetlands on their property in western Martin County to convince the county to end its contract with SFWMD. After an eight-day trial, the jury agreed Lake Point's business had been damaged by Hurchalla's actions.
The appellate court motion filed June 18 actually is Hurchalla's third request for a new trial. She asked Circuit Court Judge William Roby during the first day of testimony in February's civil trial either to recuse himself or to declare a mistrial, based on her claim the judge was biased. Roby denied her request.
Hurchalla asked again for a new trial when the case reached the appellate court in March, a motion that also was denied; however, she now may get that new trial after all.
In her newest motion, Hurchalla asks the appellate court to relinquish their jurisdiction to the Martin County Circuit Court so she can present evidence of alleged juror misconduct. She claims the jury foreman in the civil court trial, Steven Hursh, was actually a resident of Highlands Ranch, Colo., at the time.
If Roby finds her claims credible, he could declare a mistrial, rendering the jury's judgment moot and ending Lake Point's garnishment of Hurchalla's approximately $2 million in financial assets. A trial to determine which assets are exempt from garnishment was set for July 31...