SANDESTIN — Dr. Andrea Minyard is out as the medical examiner of Florida’s First Judicial Circuit.
After a lengthy discussion, the state’s Medical Examiners Commission voted 8-1 Friday not to forward a request for Minyard’s reappointment to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
However, Minyard will continue her work in an interim capacity until her replacement is found.
Minyard, the circuit's medical examiner since 2004, has been under fire since about two months before her most recent appointment expired last July 1. Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, citing slow autopsy turn around, high costs and questionable financial activity, asked the County Commission last May to join him in opposing keeping her in the job.
All four counties in the Judicial Circuit later joined in a lawsuit against Minyard when she failed to disclose her office's financial records.
Ashley and Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson attended Friday morning's meeting, which was held at the Sandestin Hilton, to repeat their opposition to the reappointment. They contend that as the easternmost counties in the four-county circuit, they receive significantly less attention from the Pensacola-based Medical Examiner’s Office.
Adkinson framed the frustrations the Sheriff’s Offices and county commissions as “a customer service issue.”
“The service users in this case are dissatisfied with the service up to the point where they have filed litigation,” Adkinson said. “If your customers do not want your service so much that they are suing you, there’s no way you should continue that service. ... I don’t think I’ve ever had to work so hard to discontinue a service.”
Greg Marcille, the chief assistant state attorney for the judicial circuit, addressed the commission in favor of retaining Minyard.
He said the State Attorney’s Office has great confidence in Minyard’s work and find her a valuable asset in prosecuting criminal activity. He said replacing her would be a lengthy, and likely expensive, undertaking.
“Our office is satisfied and recommend that she be reappointed,” Marcille said. “There is a huge impact on the criminal justice system any time a medical examiner is replaced.”
After hearing testimony, including a brief statement from Minyard herself, board members appeared to come to the conclusion that the differences between the counties and Minyard’s office weren’t going to be resolved quickly or easily.
Carol Whitmore, who represents the state’s county commissioners on the Medical Examiners Commission, argued that the financial issues brought up primarily by Ashley shouldn’t be a commission concern. But her motion to recommend reappointment died for lack of a second.
The rest of the board cited an obvious loss of trust and lack of confidence in voting to deny the reappointment.
“We’ve seen this before. I don’t know how this relationship, outside of the finances, can be worked out,” commission member Barbara Wolf said. “There’s a total lack of confidence.”
Minyard, who left the Hilton soon after the decision, declined comment on her way out.
State Attorney Bill Eddins issued a news release about 4 p.m. Friday that said he had appointed Minyard as the interim medical examiner. She will hold the position while the Medical Examiners Commission looks for her replacement.
Under the Florida Administrative Code, the commission has six months to make a replacement recommendation to the governor, the release said.
As the interim medical examiner, Minyard will be subject to discipline she received Friday when a complaint lodged by the First Judicial Circuit Sheriff’s and the Okaloosa County Commission was found to have merit.
For one year, Minyard will be required to report to another Florida medical examiner all cases she declines jurisdiction over and any case in which she decides not to conduct an autopsy. The reports must be made initially every two weeks, and can decline gradually as the supervisory medical examiner determines.