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Kevin KirbyKevin Kirby Pleads Guilty to Drunk Driving: Forgoes Trial; On Probation; License Suspended; Fined

There was no notice posted anywhere in the courthouse that this event, a matter of great public interest and concern, was suddenly scheduled for Judge Coleman's courtroom. Photo taken 45 minutes after the case was closed. The Third Circuit refuses to post court calendars.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Just days away from jury selection and a full blown trial and a week after County Court Judge William F. Williams, III denied Mr. Kirby's motions to dismiss the charges against him and suppress the testimony of one of the State's key witnesses, Columbia County's number two, Kevin Kirby, had a change of heart.

 Tuesday afternoon at about 2:30 pm, in a hastily arranged court appearance, Mr. Kirby agreed to take the standard first time offender DUI plea agreement and pled guilty to driving under the influence. Mr. Kirby's license remains suspended. He is on supervised probation.

At the present time it is not clear if Mr. Kirby can drive a county vehicle, although since the time of his arrest for drunk driving, Mr. Kirby has been spotted being driven around by different county employees. His $108,000 job as public works director/operations manager makes him responsible for all the roads in the County. It is not clear how he can do his job and not be able to drive.

The County 5, Columbia County's infamous County Commission, has remained silent, as they have on other alleged transgressions by Mr. Kirby.

August 12: The Honorable William F. Williams, III took the bench

On August 12 Judge Williams watched the FHP video. From left to right: State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister, Defense Attorney Travis Koon, Kevin Kirby, Judge Williams.

Since our last article on July 18th, the State was moving forward toward a jury trial. Mr. Kirby, who at one time thought he had everything "taken care of" filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to suppress certain statements and testimony at the upcoming trial.

On August 12, after all Lake City judges recused themselves, Suwannee County Court Judge William F. Williams, III convened the court to hear Mr. Kirby's pre trial motions.

In short order after hearing arguments, Judge Williams, from the bench, denied Mr. Kirby's motion to dismiss the charges against him.

Suppression motions and Miranda

Judge Williams was the only Judge familiar with the Kirby DUI. He had the authority to reject the plea agreement. Here he watches the video. No one will ever know what he would have done had he come to Lake City on Tuesday.

Mr. Kirby's next motions were suppression motions.

Mr. Kirby's motion to suppress statements made to arresting officer FHP Trooper Williams and jail personnel was upheld in part from the bench when Judge Williams ruled that because Mr. Kirby was not given his Miranda warning some of his statements in the jail would be suppressed. "Always give Miranda just out of precaution," he said.

Mr. Kirby also wanted the statements of paramedic Kimberly Finnegan to be suppressed: "Paramedic Finnegan observed that Kevin Dewayne Kirby approached her and then fell into her. At that time she determined the smell of ETOH (alcohol) was emanating from his person and that he had urinated on himself. During her time observing the Defendant, she also noted that there were two coolers which had apparently spilled or fallen out of the Defendant's vehicle when it crashed. She observed the Defendant retrieve these two coolers and replace liquor bottles inside of them." (see page 1, Judge Williams' decision).

Mr. Kirby also wanted his statements to Ms. Finnegan that he was "the sole occupant and driver of the vehicle" suppressed, claiming they were protected medical files.

Judge Williams ruled that these statements, "... fall under no constitutionally or statutorily mandated exclusion." (see page 2, Judge Williams' decision).

Kirby: time to think – time running out

With jury selection and the trial scheduled to begin tomorrow, Friday, time was running out for Mr. Kirby to decide if he wanted his day in court or was going to take the guilty plea which was offered by the State months ago.

Recused County Judge Tom Coleman back in the mix

According to Judge Coleman, Tuesday morning while he was conducting court, Mr. Kirby's attorney, Defense Attorney Travis Koon and Assistant State Attorney Quentin Humphrey both found themselves in his courtroom on different matters. Judge Coleman had previously recused himself from the case.

During a break in the action, they asked Judge Coleman if they could approach the bench. They told Judge Coleman they had reached a plea agreement. They wanted to know if he would preside over their court appearance.

Judge Coleman told the Observer that he instructed Mr. Koon to call Judge Williams "and make sure he had no objection."

Judge Coleman said that Mr. Koon reported back to him that he had made the call: Joyce Cameron, Judge Williams' Judicial Assistant had conferred with Judge Williams and that Judge Williams wanted him to handle the plea.

The Court Proceeding: Kirby pleads guilty

1st Florida DUI Offense
First Drunk Driving Conviction (Note: BAL = Blood Alcohol Level)
 • Jail – 6 Months Maximum (BAL from .08 to less than .15)
 • Jail - 9 Months Maximum (BAL above .15)

 • Fine – From $500 to $1,000 (BAL from .08 to less than .15)
 • Fine – From $1,000 to $2,000 (BAL above .15) or Minor in Vehicle
 • License – Suspended from 180 Days to 1 Year
 • Hardship Reinstatement – Complete DUI School Prior to Hardship Application
 • Community Service Fine - $10 for Each Hour of Community Service Required
 • Community Service – 50 Hours
 • Treatment Program May Be Allowed in Lieu of Imprisonment
 • Vehicle Impound – 10 Days

Administrative Penalities
 • Refusals to submit under Florida’s implied consent laws result  in mandatory license suspension of one (1) year

Fines - Criminal Penalty
 • Fines range from a minimum of $500 to not more than $1000, which is doubled if offender’s BAC above .15 or if minor present in vehicle at time of arrest.
 • Fines assessed cover only small portion of actual costs of resolving administrative and criminal penalties related to a first offense DUI in Florida

At approximately 2:30 pm on Tuesday afternoon both the State and the Defendant appeared in Judge Coleman's courtroom in the Lake City/Columbia County courthouse.

Judge Coleman began, "This is a fairly standard first time DUI plea commonly offered by the State Attorney's Office with the exception of some additional costs."

Assistant State Attorney Quentin Humphrey responded, "Yes your honor, it's the same offer we offer to everybody – the first time DUI with no record. He was offered first time DUI with minimums with the additional cost of prosecution because of the additional transcript costs that we had. That's reflected in the plea agreement."

Judge Coleman swore in Mr. Kirby and explained his rights telling him, "All of those are rights that you would give up if you enter this plea. What you get in return is the certainty of the disposition of your case... Those are the things that have now been negotiated away... If you had gone to trial in the matter you could have been sentenced to some time in jail, higher fines and so forth."

Mr. Kirby's Defense Attorney, Travis Koon, addressed his client: Mr. Kirby, I've advised you that the judge recused himself today [sic] and we went over the conditions of this plea prior to being here. Do you consent to Judge Coleman entering your plea today without a conflict?

Mr. Kirby responded, "Yes sir, I do."

The plea agreement - "no contest"

Mr. Koon explained the plea agreement. He said this is a first DUI below .15 [blood alcohol content]. The State recommends an adjudication of guilt. We would ask the court to allow Mr. Kirby to plead no contest. Ask the court to impose 12 months probation, with early termination after six months with full compliance of the following conditions: Mr. Kirby shall pay a $500 fine and court costs; $135 DUI surcharge; $504 cost of prosecution, for a total of $1420 dollars. Mr. Kirby shall not possess or consume alcoholic beverages. He shall be trespass in bars and liquor stores. He shall be subject to random alcohol and drug testing... His driver's license shall be suspended for six months. (He) shall be subject to a 10 day vehicle impoundment and 50 hrs of community service...

Judge Coleman addressed Defendant Kirby, "Now it's the time for me to ask this. Is this what you've agreed to do?"

Mr. Kirby answered affirmatively and pled no contest.

Judge Coleman continued, "Pursuant to the statute I adjudicate you guilty and impose 12 months supervised probation with early termination after six months with full compliance... Special conditions of probation are you will not possess or consume alcoholic beverages. You can't have them in your truck. You can't have them in your house or anywhere else. You can't go into any bars or liquor stores.

The Civil Matters: not part of the plea agreement. "I probably would have recused myself," Judge Coleman.

There were two civil matters charged against Mr. Kirby: one for a violation of the open container law and one for careless driving. They were not part of the plea agreement as the State had no jurisdiction over these matters.

Mr. Kirby had previously agreed to pay the fines of both charges. He didn't.

Judge Coleman, "That leaves us with the two civil matters. Were they contested, I probably would have recused myself as well. I don't see any reason that I wouldn't have. We're in the position now where it's a little strange for the court... Typically, I would dismiss the open container charge. And I'm willing to do that. And I'll listen to you on the careless [driving], but that's where I indicate to ya I'm having a little bit and the state doesn't have jurisdiction."

Defense Attorney Koon addressed the court, "On the careless driving. There's two instances in the DUI video that has been introduced in the record. It's our understanding that what happened is an animal ran out in front of Mr. Kirby and the car flipped over and he swerved."

Assistant State Attorney Humphrey seemed to say that this was the State Attorney's material that was suppressed by Judge Williams. Mr. Humphrey said the defendant did indicate that an animal, a "rascal in his words, had run across and he swerved to avoid it."

Judge Coleman asked Mr. Kirby what kind of animal it was and Mr. Kirby answered that it was a dog.

Judge Coleman ruled, "A dog, OK. Well, based on that and given the rest what you have to pay and the penalties and all that in this case, then I will dismiss the careless driving as well. They're both dismissed in this case."

The Civil Matters: Did Judge Williams know about them?

On Wednesday morning in a conversation with Judge William's Judicial Assistant, Joyce Cameron, your reporter asked if Judge Williams knew Judge Coleman was going to rule on the Civil Matters. "I don't know," she said.


There was no notice posted anywhere in the courthouse that this event, a matter of great public interest and concern, was suddenly scheduled for Judge Coleman's courtroom with recused Judge Coleman presiding.

The thought among some is that the state saved 44.5 cents a mile by not having Judge Williams drive from Live Oak to Lake City to preside over the plea deal, which most times is just a ministerial act.

The thought among others is that, after all the thousands spent on the Kirby DUI case, it would have been a small price to pay to have Judge Williams, a judge with knowledge of the proceedings, travel to Lake City and preside.

Had Judge Williams, a Judge who did not know Kevin Kirby, been sitting on the bench the outcome may have been different. It doesn't happen often, but a judge has the right to reject plea deals.

Fifteen minutes and 10 seconds after the court convened, it was over. Mr. Kirby had accepted the plea arrangement and pled guilty to drunk driving.

All quotes from Tuesday's August 20th hastily arranged un-noticed court appearance were taken from the court video.

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