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Befaithful Coker Further Delayed in Taking Her Seat on City Council. City Atty Fails to Respond in Time to Judge’s “Order to Show Cause”

Photos of city council members and city attorney with caption: Lake City's District 144 seat stays vacant. City Council and attorney delay-delay-delay
Clockwise beginning top left: Councilman Jake Hill, City Atty Fred Koberlein, Councilmen Eugene Jefferson and Todd Sampson, Mayor Steve Witt  | Columbia County Observer Photos

LAKE CITY, FL – The saga of Befaithful Coker to be seated on Lake City's City Council was further delayed on Monday. City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., failed to reply in the twenty days allotted to a court order explaining why Ms. Coker should not be seated.


On November 8, 2021, Ms. Coker, through her attorney Natalie Kato of Kato Law, filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus against the City Council and the City Clerk. Among other things, Ms. Coker asked that the City Council "seat Befaithful Coker as a voting council member at the November 8th special council meeting."

In Florida, the party asking for a writ of mandamus must demonstrate a clear legal right to ask for the commission of the particular duty in question. Mandamus is a recognized remedy to require a public official to discharge his duty.

Quoting from established Florida case law, Ms. Coker pointed out “that mandamus is a civil remedy to compel a public official to discharge a ministerial duty.”

As was required by the Lake City Home Rule Charter, Ms. Coker was appointed by the City Council to fill the vacated District 14 seat, and she filed her Oath of office with the City Clerk.

widget: the orderAt 5:15 pm, Judge Darin Jackson "Ordered the City “shall SHOW CAUSE within 20 days (emphasis added by the Court) as to why the Petition should not be granted.

In law, shall = must.

Twenty days from November 8 was November 28, Sunday. The Court was closed, the City’s response was due on Monday, November 29, the next day the Court was open for business.

Sixteen Days and Counting
No Permission From the Court for the City to File Late

On November 24, sixteen days after the Court's Order, and the day before a holiday, City Attorney Koberlein filed a motion with the Court for an extension of time.

A look at the court docket shows the City was not granted permission from Circuit Court Judge David Fina, the judge assigned to the case, to delay its response.

For the City's response to the Court Order to have complied with the Court's 20-day time limit, Mr. Koberlein would have had to work over the long holiday weekend and filed the City's response on Monday.

City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., claims to be an expert in municipal law. His father, Fred Koberlein, Sr., is a retired circuit court judge. Mr. Koberlein Jr. advertises that his firm is expert in municipal law and that he is “a Board Certified attorney [emphasis on the Koberlein website] in the area of City, County, and Local Government law.”

Fred Koberlein, Jr., is an announced candidate for Circuit Court Judge.

Before becoming a judge, retired Judge Fred Koberlein, Sr., "worked on cases from inception to appeal involving jury and non-jury trials, hearings before arbitrators and administrative bodies, and filed both pretrial and post-trial motions." (Koberlein Law website)

The Importance of the Case

Lake City has a “Home Rule Charter” which gives it the ability to “establish its form of government through its charter…” (FL League of Cities)

It is well established that the Court has determined Ms. Coker has met the two “Home Rule Charter” requirements, appointment and the filing of an oath, to be seated on the City Council.

Every day the City Council seat remains vacated due to the City’s failure to follow the Court Order is delay.

City Attorney Koberlein, in the City's motion [request] for more time, wrote: “This motion is made in good faith and not for the purposes of delay.”

The Koberleins would not have been the first attorneys to work on a holiday weekend to comply with an order of the Court.

The Court

The ball is in Judge Fina’s Court, as is the composition of the City Council.


It is well known that the mantra of many local governments and state agencies when being sued is: defend-delay-defend-delay.

With a bottomless pit of public money, putting hapless citizens in a monetary crunch is not hard to do.

Stay tuned.

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