Sebastian Councilwoman Pamela Parris was found guilty Wednesday after making a plea of no contest.
Judge Nicole Menz fined Parris $250 for the non-criminal fraction, plus $68 in court costs for violating the Sunshine Law on July 8, 2020.
“I would never and didn’t believe I was intentionally breaking any law. I don’t know why I would do that on the dais. I was under the impression and told that’s where we have our discussions and are permitted to do so. There’s been so many times when I turned my head and seen the Mayor and the other council members having discussions on whatever after meetings and during breaks. I honestly didn’t think I was breaking any laws,” Parris told Judge Menz.
Philip Louis Reizenstein, the attorney representing Parris in the case, told Judge Nicole Menz that his client didn’t know she was breaking the Sunshine Law while speaking with Mauti on the dias.
“She did not realize she was doing anything wrong,” Reizenstein told the court.
However, Judge Menz said Parris was expected to know the laws after she was elected to the City Council.
“You are held to, or expected to abide by, obviously all of the laws, and it’s just a given that you’re going to know what all of those are when you are elected to such a position to the City Council in Sebastian,” Menz told Parris.
“I am going to adjudicate you guilty,” Menz said. The judge gave Parris credit for making her no contest plea and reduced the $500 maximum fine to $250.
When the City Council meeting was adjourned on July 8, Parris walked over to Mauti and began talking privately about the annexation and other city business.
Mauti tried to stop Parris and told her they might be violating the Sunshine Law for having the discussion. The conversation was recorded because the microphones were still on after the meeting was over.
Parris is still facing a criminal case for another Sunshine Law violation after attending a private meeting on April 22, 2020, with Vice Mayor Charles Mauti and Councilman Damien Gilliams. During the meeting, they voted to fire city staff and appoint Gilliams as the new Mayor.
Following the city council election last year, Parris told people on social media that she’s already read up on the Sunshine Laws.
“I wonder how many Sunshine Law Violations you guys will get before you figure out what ‘transparency’ means,” Facebook user Brian Maxson asked Parris.
“I’ve already read the book, Brian,” Parris said.