Florida Supreme Court

Sen. Benacquisto's twitter

A measure allowing certain abuse victims to secretly record their attackers to use as evidence in court is now heading to the Senate floor.

Florida Channel

A bill allowing young sexual abuse victims to secretly record their attackers to use as evidence in court cleared its first Senate hearing Monday.

Florida Channel

A measure allowing sexual abuse victims to use secret recordings of their attackers as evidence in court is moving forward in the Florida House. The proposed committee bill gained initial approval in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday.

Florida Channel

Attorney General Pam Bondi says she’s on board with a bill making it easier for sexual abuse victims under the age of 17 to privately record their attacker so it can hold up in a Florida court.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that through because that’s very, very important. But, just know, that it’s a very narrow, narrow field, and only has to do with children and rape victims—not just at the hands of their parents, but any pedophile,” said Bondi, during a recent Associated Press gathering in Tallahassee.

Joe Gratz via Flickr

The Florida Supreme Court is kicking off a state-wide tour this week in Orlando. The court wants feedback from the public on ways to improve operations.

The high court is using the tour to get the public’s take on issues faced in the judicial system that could include subjects like access or funding. Office of State Courts Administrator, Joanne Snair says the court wants to hear from the public.

http://dontmissthesigns.org

At least one lawmaker has followed through on an abuse survivor’s vow to make sure legislation was filed to allow young victims to use private recordings in sex abuse cases. It follows a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that will now allow a man convicted of abusing his stepdaughter to get a new trial, after she taped an incriminating conversation without his consent.

The Case

Florida needs 35 new judges next year to deal with a chronic backlog in the courts. That’s according to a report issued by the state supreme court. New judges are needed even though some of the workload is easing, including a 7-percent decline in felony juvenile delinquency cases.

The Legislature hasn’t funded any new trial court judges in seven years, justices say. The report recommends creating the bulk of the new judges, 32, in county courts.

Florida Bar president Greg Coleman agrees.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Should the Florida Supreme Court or the state Legislature have the power to shift the burden of proof to a defendant or the state prosecutor in a Stand Your Ground case? That question was recently before the high court as well as the Legislature earlier this year. So, could that come back into play again next legislative session?

The Case Before The Court

John Mills represents the Soffer family.
Gavel to Gavel

Thousands of tobacco cases are working their way through the Florida judicial system.  These so-called ‘progeny’ cases come from a mid-1990s class action lawsuit known as Engle.  Although the case went against tobacco manufacturers, in 2006 the Florida Supreme Court split the class of smokers up to determine financial damages.  But two cases that came before the Supreme Court this week show the matter is far from settled.

Rockenbach represents the Ciccone family who are arguing for inclusion in the class of smokers from an earlier ruling.
Gavel to Gavel / wfsu.org

The tobacco company R.J. Reynolds came before the Florida Supreme Court Thursday in two back-to-back liability cases.  Even though the cases raise different questions, they both spring from a class action suit begun in mid-nineties.

The two tobacco cases stem from the so-called Engle case.   Engle started as a class action lawsuit, and the courts eventually did rule against the tobacco companies. But to award damages, the state Supreme Court decided to split the class up, leading to thousands of individual cases like the two heard Thursday. 

MGN Online

Should the state or the defense have the burden of proof in a Stand Your Ground case? That question was before the Florida Supreme Court Tuesday as the justices weighed arguments.

No shots were fired, but Jared Bretherick did point a gun at another man, he says, to protect his family during a 2011 incident in Osceola County. The Indiana man was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. But, speaking to Supreme Court Justices Tuesday, his lawyer, Eric Friday, says it was self-defense.

Nick Evans

Florida Chief Justice Jorge Larbarga has created a new Commission to study the unmet legal needs of lower and middle-income Floridians in an effort to increase access to the courts for people who have to represent themselves.

Florida's Congressional District 5 was one of two found unconstitutional earlier this year.  It was altered during a special legislative session, but voting rights groups don't think the changes went far enough.
nationalatlas.gov via wikimedia commons

Over the weekend The Naples Daily News got more than 500 pages of documents relating to Florida’s redistricting scandal.  State officials had originally planned to release the documents on the first of December.  The Florida Supreme Court voted unanimously to unseal the papers earlier this month.

Florida Oath Gives Choice To Swear Or Affirm

Nov 20, 2014
Image taken from the 1955 movie "Illegal"

When public servants and lawmakers officially start their new terms in office they take an oath. It’s been the same since Florida became a state in 1845. But some people are still confused about the first few words.

This year, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labara officiated the swearing in ceremony at the Florida Senate. As a circuit judge he's also administered the oath to people testifying in court.

It always starts in pretty much the same way--with the words "I  solemnly swear or affirm."

2ndcircuit.leoncountyfl.gov

Leon County Circuit Judge Judith Hawkins wants the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to remove her from the bench.

Hawkins had until Friday at midnight to request a rehearing. In a request to reconsider the judgment, Hawkins writes she did not deceive the JQC and handed over all documents requested. She also says her response of “fighting the good fight” was taken out of context.

Florida Department of Corrections

A North Florida man is scheduled to die Thursday for the murders of his wife and stepdaughter more than 20 years ago.

At around 6 p.m., Chadwick Banks is expected to be executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke.

The 43-year-old is convicted of first killing his wife as well as then raping and murdering his 10-year-old stepdaughter in 1992 in their Gadsden County home.

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously rejected his appeal and denied Banks’ stay of execution request.

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.

MGN Online

A gay rights advocacy group agrees with a decision by Attorney General Pam Bondi to let the state’s high court decide whether Florida’s gay marriage ban is legal.

Bondi's Latest Request

Late Monday, Bondi’s office filed a request with 3rd district Court of Appeal to allow the Florida Supreme Court to immediately review the ban. And, Equality Florida’s Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer says it’s about time Bondi came to that decision. His group helped six same-sex couples file one of the two Florida cases in question.

defibrillator
David Bruce via Flickr

The parents of a brain-damaged former Florida high-school soccer player may get to bring their negligence lawsuit before a jury, depending on how the state Supreme Court rules. The court is weighing whether to undo the suit’s dismissal by two lower courts.

Florida Supreme Court

Three proposed state constitutional amendment are slated for Florida’s November ballot. So far most of the media and the public’s attention has been paid to two of them. But the one proposal that could have the most impact on state policy, is the one many people are overlooking.

Some political watchers say Florida is heading toward a crisis in the judicial system.

wedding bands
Andrew Malone via Flickr

The Florida Supreme Court is weighing whether to hear a same-sex divorce case. A lower court has asked for guidance after judges in the state recently ruled Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

The spouses in the case are Florida residents who were married in Massachusetts four years ago. Early this year, they filed for dissolution of their marriage, but their circuit court judge said because Florida doesn’t recognize their union, the state lacks jurisdiction to grant their divorce.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Florida lawyers agree there’s a funding crisis that threatens legal service for the poor. But there’s disagreement among them on how to fix the problem. The Florida Bar opposes a proposal by hundreds of attorneys to raise Bar membership dues to cover the cost.

For people under a certain income level, legal aid can help with issues spanning from scams to juvenile justice. But in Florida, there’s only about one legal aid lawyer for every 20,000 eligible clients, according to state administrators.

Sally Falko via Flickr

The Florida Supreme Court heard a case Thursday questioning current limits on workers compensation.  At issue is a ruling at the District Court level addressing a potential gap between temporary and permanent disability coverage.

Bradley Westphal was a firefighter in St. Petersburg, and he injured his back while fighting a fire in 2009.  The injury left Westphal in a category known as "temporary total disability."  This means he was unable to work for the moment, but his doctors expected him to be able to work again at some point.

floridasupremecourt.org / Florida Supreme Court

Open government advocates are asking “What Would Askew Do?” when it comes to public officials and financial reporting. The late Governor Reubin Askew promoted government transparency, and a lawsuit filed before the Florida Supreme Court says when public officials use blind trusts to hide their assets, it’s unconstitutional.

Andrew Bret Wallis / Getty Images

Today, there’s no Florida law on the books to protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination. For months, the Florida Supreme Court grappled with that decision, and Thursday, they ruled employers can’t discriminate against pregnant women under the state’s civil rights act. But, one lawmaker says that still needs to be codified in state law.

For more than 30 years, pregnancy has been protected from employer discrimination under federal law. But, in the Sunshine state, it’s a different story.

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