How to honor a great Floridian: Sandy D’Alemberte

Sun Sentinel Editorial  May 22, 2019
Florida lost one of its greatest citizens when Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte died of a heart attack Monday. The people lost a lifelong champion of open government and fair courts. The legal profession lost someone who embodied its highest ideals and inspired others. The poor and powerless here and around the world lost a friend.


Maggy Hurchalla writes:
He was an iconic legal scholar . He was the model of a real public servant. He was president of the American Bar Assoc. and Florida State.

He was brilliant and courtly and brave.

Sandy believed in liberty and justice for ALL and the words carved on the corner of the Justice Building in Washington: "Liberty is maintained in defense of Justice". He  spent a lifetime defending the constitution and democracy's promise to " the least of these my brethren" (Mathew 25:40). He was not afraid of billionaires or bullies or arrogant opposing counsel reminiscent of  Snidely Whiplash.

He was my Appeals lawyer in Lake Point v Maggy Hurchalla. He was lead counsel of the very best good guy, First Amendment legal team you could imagine.

Sandy was my friend. He was a friend of more than fifty years to all Renos great and small. He paddled the length and the breadth of the Okeefenokee Swamp with us. He  laughed and quoted poetry and told stories. He could tell you about Christmas Day in Bastogne when Gen. McAuliff and his troops were surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge. They held out because they believed in democracy and hope. When the Germans demanded surrender, McAuliff answered "Nuts!"

He gave wonderful hugs and could sing all the verses  of The Great Ship Titanic and The Wild Colonial Boy. 

Truth and Justice will miss Sandy.
Those who knew and loved him will miss him even more.

He helped us keep the faith. He fought the good fight.
We will finish the race.

Maggy Reno Hurchalla

Sandy at Lake Point oral arguments:
Sandy at my sister's memorial service:
fast forward to 2:16:09

What happened in the Appeal Hearing on March 12, 2019?

All of the appeal briefs for both cases are on the website.

The judges will now mull it over for weeks or months before making a decision. There will be no more briefs or hearings or arguments. 

There is no way to know what the three judge panel thought or when they will decide. It’s impossible to tell whether their pointed questions mean they are playing devil’s advocate or that they have made up their mind.

It was a wonderful day to live in a free country where, for more than 200 years, citizens have had the right to speak truth to power and disagree with their public officials.

I’m grateful to the world’s greatest legal team and amici and friends and supporters who have had my back and held my hand over the last six years.


If you don’t, they will take over the world.

If you don’t stand up to the Big Bullies, all the little bullies will come out of the woodwork.

Lake Point is a Big Bully. The Lindemann family has a reputation for using unlimited resources to sue opposition into submission.

In 2008 George Lindemann Jr.’s Lake Point group paid $53 million for a wet sugar cane field in western Martin County. He said he had no business plan and did no appraisals. He bought in the middle of the 2008 financial crash.

Lake Point lost millions from 2008 to 2013 trying to sell rock when the market had bottomed out. Then they tried to recoup their investment by selling water.

When that didn’t work he sued everyone in sight.

They sued South Florida Water Management District because the District told them they couldn’t sell water.

They sued Martin County because the County insisted on enforcing the terms of their agreement they had with SFWMD.

They sued me to make me be quiet. 

Back in 2016 Judge McManus awarded summary judgment to SFWMD ruling that the contract they had with Lake Point did not allow Lake Point to sell water 

For Judge McManus' ruling see

After five years of being legally bullied and after their own attorneys said they could win, SFWMD gave up and told Lake Point they could sell water and mine the property for fifty years. Under the settlement they would have absolutely no responsibility to provide any promised public benefits. The attorney who advised them to settle then quit and went to work for Lake Point's lobbyist.

The SFWMD is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside attorneys to make sure that no one EVER sees the transcript of the secret meeting where the SFWMD Board decided to turn victory into defeat at public expense.

Two months after the District settled,  Martin County succumbed to legal bullying and gave Lake Point everything they wanted including an abject apology and $12 million dollars of taxpayers' money.

I’m the last one standing.

I am not giving up in spite of the $4.3 million dollar verdict against me in Judge Roby's court.

According to the US Supreme Court: “those who won our independence believed ... that public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.”

Lake Point insisted that sending emails to your commissioners at their home address was illegal.

It is not.

They said I made false statements about them. I did not. I would be happy to review with anyone all of the statements I made and why they are true. My concerns about Lake Point were raised early and repeated often. They were not secret.

Lake Point says I made the County issue a Notice of Violation. County staff testified that I had nothing to do with the Violation Notice they issued.

They said I attempted to influence my elected officials on important public issues. According to the Supreme Court, that is not illegal. The highest court in the land  said that was a bedrock of democracy.

Lake Point convinced Judge Roby to tell the jury that the first amendment does not apply to contracts.

It does.

Why am I spending my old age fighting a billionaire bully?

Imagine what politics would be like if citizens could not criticize a government contract without being sued for millions of dollars. If you found your officials were giving away the store with your tax dollars, you couldn’t mention it.

Imagine how that would hurt democracy and help corruption.

Several of the best first amendment lawyers in the country have offered to handle my appeal. They believe there are important constitutional issues involved.

I’m proud and happy to have them defending me and defending our Constitution.

Equally important to me is what it would do to Martin County if I give up and the Big Bully wins on all fronts .Lake Point would own us.

Imagine what it would be like if Martin County put out a big red sign that said:


Our comprehensive plan would become a meaningless piece of paper given away piece by piece in secret “settlement negotiations.”

If they thought the Big Bullies and the little bullies were going to sue them, no resident would dare to send an email or walk up to the podium to talk to the county commission.

Martin County is what it is because residents have never been afraid to tell their commissioners what kind of county they want to live in. That’s why we’re different. Left to themselves, too many politicians will do what special interest want and hope the public doesn’t notice.

If we lose the passionate public participation of Martin County residents, we will lose what made us special..

The Constitution is worth fighting for.

Martin County is worth fighting for.

I don’t believe we can let a biased judge and a vengeful billionaire redefine first amendment rights.

We kept the faith. We fought the good fight. 

We will finish the race.

Thank you for having my back, 

Maggy Reno Hurchalla

Lake Point Hard Hats

The Slappee with Slapp Protector attorneys Howard Heims and Ginny Sherlock on a court ordered inspection tour of Lake Point.