The Associated Press

2ndcircuit.leoncountyfl.gov

The Florida Supreme Court has removed Leon County Judge Judith Hawkins from the bench. Hawkins sold her religious books from her office to lawyers and staffers as part of her for-profit ministry.

floridastate.247sports.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the adviser for the family of Jameis Winston has asked Florida State why it has chosen now to engage in the Title IX process and accuses the school of trying to protect its own interests and responding to media pressure.

Florida State announced last week it will use an independent official in a student code of conduct hearing. A female student said Winston sexually assaulted her in December 2012.

Robert Champion, a FAMU Drum Major, died in Nov. 2011 from injuries related to a hazing ritual.
Robert Champion

The four remaining defendants in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University marching band drum major are about to go on trial, and their attorneys argue what happened to Robert Champion was part of a contest.

Defense attorneys are making a case that Florida's anti-hazing law is so vague that what happened to Champion wasn't hazing but part of a contest.
 
The defense is asking a judge for a hearing challenging the anti-hazing law. Circuit Judge Rene Roche set a hearing a week before the defendants' Oct. 27 trial.

Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed a judge’s ruling declaring Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. She filed the appeal within hours of the ruling on Thursday. 

A Monroe County circuit judge made the ruling, which applies only to the Florida Keys.

Judge Luis Garcia agreed with a Key West couple suing for the right to get a marriage license. The men are celebrating their 11-year anniversary together and were turned down when they applied with the Monroe County clerk.

Scott Markowitz

The federal government asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to overturn a nationwide trade ban on four giant snake species—including snakes invading the Florida Everglades. The action comes amidst calls for the feds to ban five additional snake species.

Respres

Financial relief provided to Floridians under a mortgage settlement has far exceeded what state officials expected, according to a new national report. More than 120,000 Floridians have received billions of dollars in in aid so far from five major banks.

The report shows much of the roughly $9 billion in assistance has been from lenders forgiving loans or liens to enable home sales. It’s just a piece of the landmark $25 billion settlement that came after an investigation of foreclosure abuses.

MIAMI (AP) - Argentines in Miami are celebrating the selection of Pope Francis from Buenos Aires.

At the Buenos Aires Bakery & Cafe in Miami Beach, Argentines drinking their afternoon coffee on Wednesday broke into cheers and applause as the new pope was announced.

Update 3:10 pm:   A sweeping multi-state investigation of a purported veterans' charity based in Florida has led to nearly 60 people indicted and the resignation of the state's lieutenant governor.
 
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll once did public relations for the charity Allied Veterans of the World. She was questioned in the investigation, but she has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a petition that would allow authorities to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys at Marianna.
 
Bondi's office filed a petition Tuesday on behalf of the appointed medical examiner for the 14th District of Florida. The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.

Leon County Jail

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - An attorney for one of the defendants in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major says his client is going to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

Florida economists on Thursday came out with a new price tag for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul that is dramatically lower than the one cited earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott.

Economists are now projecting that it would cost Florida taxpayers about $5.2 billion over the next decade to pay for the changes.

Gov. Rick Scott won office on the slogan "Let's get to work" and is now proclaiming "It's working."

Tony Levell

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.
 
     Ten of the band members had been charged last May with felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but prosecutors said Monday they are raising the charges to manslaughter. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter.
 

CROSS CITY, Fla. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union has dropped its lawsuit challenging a granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments in front of a north Florida courthouse.
 
ACLU of Florida executive director Howard Simon said Friday that the group had to withdraw the case because its client, a North Carolina man, no longer plans to move to Dixie County.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--A Florida Panhandle developer has pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false statement to federal election officials.
 
Destin Developer Jay Odom told a federal judge Tuesday that he engineered a scheme to circumvent federal election laws and funnel money to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee during Huckabee's 2007 presidential run.
 
Prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of violating election laws in exchange for Odom pleading guilty to making false statements.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Miami Dolphins are getting early support from state legislators to use tax dollars to renovate Sun Life Stadium.
 
A Florida Senate panel on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure (SB 306) that would guarantee $3 million a year for the next 30 years to help pay for stadium upgrades.

Gov. Rick Scott  says he wants to see more tax cuts for business, and more funding for education.

Scott’s proposed budget will include lowering the corporate tax rate to exempt another 2,000 businesses. He’s also calling for getting rid of sales taxes on manufacturing equipment.

“They usually consider many different locations for making a manufacturing equipment decision and Florida is just one of their options. We want this kind of manufacturing investment in Florida," Scott told reporters Wednesday in a preview at the Capitol.

Silver Springs

Silver Springs, one of Florida's oldest tourist attractions, is going out of business and will become a state park.
 
The north Florida attraction, famed for its glass bottom boats, has been plagued by low attendance and pollution, which has clouded its once-clear waters.
 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Gov. Rick Scott appointed his top lawyer to head the Florida agency that oversees unemployment compensation and economic development.
 
Scott on Thursday named Jesse Panuccio, the governor's general counsel, to the post following the sudden resignation of Hunting Deutsch amid questions about jobless benefits he had received before he was hired about eight months ago.
 
Scott also appointed outgoing State Attorney Peter Antonacci of West Palm Beach to replace Panuccio as his general counsel.
 

2:30 pm Update: Democrats win lawsuit, Broward to open. Everyone in line before 5 pm can cast in-person, absentee ballots.

10:24 am Update:

Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections office open from 9-5 pm

Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections office open from 8-5 pm

Hillsboro County Supervisor of Elections office open from 9-5 pm

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office open from 9-5 pm

Orange County, Unknown

Broward, closed

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Update 5:25 pm:

A Florida man who was awarded millions of dollars for being wrongfully jailed is now facing charges of attempted first degree murder. The Tallahassee Police Department arrested Alan Crotzer Monday night.

Crotzer was originally sentenced to 130 years in prison, but after serving 24 and a half years, he left prison a free man in 2006.

Florida State University's football team is banned from twitter. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher has told his players they can't use their Twitter accounts for the rest of the year.
 
Fisher's move comes after some players tweeted objectionable material on their Twitter sites  including one that quoted rap lyrics about killing police officers.

Fisher says he views social media as a distraction during the football season and wants his players can be as focused as possible.

zimbo.com

The NCAA’s sanctions against the Penn State football program over a sex abuse scandal are costing the school money, valuable football recruits, and wins.

Penn State’s former football Coach, the late Joe Paterno, held the record as the winningest coach Division I College football. But as part of an unprecedented penalty against the school, the NCAA vacated all of Paterno's wins from 1998 through 2011.

That means Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden will now hold the top spot in the NCAA record book for the division.

The prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case says a motion by George Zimmerman's attorney asking the judge to disqualify himself is without merit.
 
Responding to the defense's motion for recusal filed last week, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda submitted a response Tuesday also calling the request "absurd on its face." De la Rionda wrote that though the defense takes issue with language used by Judge Kenneth Lester in setting Zimmerman's second bond at $1 million, it doesn't create any predisposition about future rulings.
 

Update 2:24 pm:  Ammons will recieve more than $98,000 in bonuses per a revised statement from FAMU spokeswoman Pam Tolson:

"The Board agreed to pay the 2010-2011 bonus at the minimum contractual level of 25 percent ($81,250) of his base salary of $325,000.  The 5 percent bonus for 2011-2012 is $17,062 based on his base salary of $341,250."

 

Update: 12:10 pm:    Ammons will receive more than $100,000 in bonuses in exchange for resigning immediately. From FAMU spokeswoman Pam Tolson:

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