Judge denies official's request for protection

Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 12:53 a.m.
LAKE CITY - The chairwoman of the Columbia County Commission failed to get an injunction extended to keep the chairman of the county's Republican Executive Committee away from her and her children. The judge hearing the case made his ruling after listening to just the woman's witnesses.
First-term commissioner Jennifer Flinn, who is also a Republican, convinced a judge to issue a temporary injunction against Jackson Berry on Nov. 19 in part based on remarks she heard second-hand.
Flinn claimed that minutes after she was elected chair of the commission in mid-November, Berry told at least two people, "If Mrs. Flinn thinks she has had problems in the past, now that she is chairperson, we are going to turn the heat up."
Finn said she feared for her safety and the safety of her four children because of incidents at her home earlier in the year, including someone shooting her dogs, a home invasion attempt and other violent acts. Although the incidents were investigated by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, no one was ever charged. Flinn wanted the injunction extended until January when her husband is expected to return from a tour of military duty in Iraq.
Circuit Court Judge John W. Peach denied her request for a permanent injunction, saying she had failed to meet the burden of proving her case.
"I have no doubt that Mrs. Flinn is frightened," Peach said "(But) there is no way to connect him (Berry) to the acts."
Flinn said she preferred not to make any statements after the hearing.
Berry attributed the claims by Flinn to an effort to oust him from his chairmanship in the local Republican party in an election later this month.
"This has been a case of immature people in government and a bunch of lies," Berry said as he was congratulated by supporters following the hearing.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com.

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