Florida Supreme Court

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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.

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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.

Florida Department of Corrections

More than 200 Floridians serving life in prison for crimes they committed as minors could get new sentencing hearings, depending on how the state Supreme Court rules on a case it heard today. The court must decide whether a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision applies retroactively to previously sentenced juveniles.

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court Tuesday heard oral arguments on a law intended to speed up the capital punishment process. When Florida’s Timely Justice Act was enacted last year, critics warned it would deprive inmates of their right to appeal.

Martin McClain is the lawyer for a handful of death row inmates. He argues the Timely Justice Act makes capital cases more confusing.

Florida Supreme Court

This fall, Florida voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled 4-to-3 that the amendment’s summary and title are not misleading and can appear on the ballot.

Just a few days after elections supervisors confirmed campaigners have collected more than the required number of voter signatures, the high court removed the final hurdle in the amendment’s path to the ballot.

Florida Department of Corrections

The Florida Supreme Court has canceled oral arguments that were scheduled this month in a capital punishment case challenging the state’s three-drug execution protocol. The lawyer for the condemned man says she does not believe the court has enough evidence to rule on whether the drugs cause extreme pain.

Death-row inmate Askari Muhammad is appealing his death sentence based in part on the state’s new execution drug, midazolam. His lawyer, Linda McDermott, argues it can cause extreme pain—that’s the same argument made in pending death row cases across the state.

Florida Supreme Court justices seem split over whether the summary of a proposed amendment legalizing medical marijuana should be kept off next year’s ballot. The attorney general’s office argued before the court Thursday that the summary tells two lies about what the amendment does.

The Florida Channel

Friends and colleagues of late former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Arthur England shared memories of him at the Court today. England was best known for creating a funding system providing legal services to the poor.

In the early '80s England created a system that used interest generated by clients’ money that lawyers deposited in banks to fund legal services for low-income Floridians. The model has since been copied in every other state.

England’s fellow former Justice Joseph Hatchett remembers England presiding over a series of high-profile cases.

Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller's Office

Corrections, Law Enforcement and Clerks of Courts officials hopped between different legislative panels earlier this month, explaining to lawmakers how two inmates were able to walk free using forged release orders and how that practice might be stopped from happening in the future.

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Just a day after a pair of Democratic lawmakers announced they were filing bills to make pregnancy discrimination illegal, Florida’s Supreme Court took up the issue Thursday.

Lottie Hirsch

Controversial city ordinances allowing cameras to catch people running red lights were the subject of arguments before the Florida Supreme Court Thursday. The issue in the case is whether cities using the cameras are in conflict with state traffic law.

The case stems from two challenges to red-light-camera laws in Orlando and the Miami suburb of Aventura. On behalf of one driver, lawyer Andrew Harris says the penalties for running a red light under city ordinances are more severe than what’s laid out in state statute.

Danny Hammontree

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a lesbian biological mother has parental rights as long as she raises her child. Family lawyers across the nation were watching the same-sex custody dispute that pitted a child’s birth mother against her biological mother.

The child had been conceived by implanting one woman’s eggs in the other’s womb. Both women raised their daughter for several years before separating, and the birth mother took the child to Australia.

Flcikr Creative Commons

A recent Florida Supreme Court case is forcing justices to consider profound questions about what a reasonable expectation of privacy is. What the public may consider private space might not be, according to the letter of the law.

Shawn Tracey, was arrested in 2007 for possessing a kilogram of cocaine. He’s not arguing that he’s innocent of possession but he is challenging how investigators caught him – by using his cell phone location data. His lawyer Tatjiana Ostapoff argued Tracey’s 4th Amendment rights were violated.

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The Florida Supreme Court Monday wrestled with the implications new technology has for Floridians’ privacy. At issue is whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy when using mobile devices.

In 2007 Shawn Tracy was arrested for cocaine possession in Broward County after police tracked him using his cell phone data. Police did have a warrant for what’s called “historical data,” including numbers dialed and previous locations of Tracy’s phone, but public defender Tatjana Ostapoff argued following Tracy in real time violated Tracy’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Florida Power and Light

The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to pull the plug on a rate hike settlement deal reached between the state’s largest utility and the state’s Public Service Commission. The case is very reminiscent of another Florida Supreme Court case from the 1970s.

Florida Supreme Court
Urban Tallahassee

Florida Supreme Court Justices expressed concern Monday about the chilling effect that could result from forcing lawmakers to testify about their intentions. The question must be settled before a suit challenging Florida’s congressional districts can continue.

The justices are weighing whether to uphold a lower court’s ruling that legislative privilege exempts lawmakers from having to testify under oath about their job, including the process of drawing new district boundaries last year.

'Prince Of God' Inmate Set To Be Executed

Jul 24, 2013

A Florida death row inmate is trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life after Gov. Rick Scott signed his death warrant Tuesday. If taken up, the case could affect mental-fitness standards for execution and help determine whether federal courts must defer to state courts.

Tallahassee City Commissioners are considering a ban on hiring smokers in order to help stem a five-million dollar budget shortfall. But, Tallahassee wouldn’t be the first city in Florida to make such a move.

Smoking cigarettes can lead to heart disease, hypertension, cancer and depending on where you live in Florida, unemployment. Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox said smokers present a higher health care cost to the city and it’s not fair for taxpayers to subsidize a bad habit.

A looming $5 million budget shortfall means Tallahassee commissioners are looking to make cuts anywhere they can. Some commissioners suggest avoiding a certain group of people as a cost-saving measure.

“If you smoke cigarettes, it’s bad for you, it leads to cancer, it leads to lung cancer, [and] it leads to heart disease," said Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox. “It’s an elective choice that you have made. I don’t think that if you’ve made that choice you ought to be eligible for hire at the City of Tallahassee.”

Police Can Search If Dog Smells Drugs, High Court Says

Feb 20, 2013

A police dog’s sniff is reason enough for officers to search a person’s car or house, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court’s ruling reverses a Florida Supreme Court decision about a traffic stop in Liberty County.

Liberty County Officer William Wheetley was stopping a man in 2006, when Aldo, his German shepherd, indicated he smelled drugs. Wheetley searched the vehicle and arrested the man for having meth-making ingredients. But the Florida court had ruled the evidence should be suppressed because the dog’s sniff was not probable cause for a search.

The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether a group of Floridians could subpoena a Kentucky company for the inner workings of their breathalyzer. The outcome of the case could affect more than just breathalyzers.

The Florida Supreme Court has finally settled a long-running argument over which state entity has the power to set university tuition and has sided with the legislature over the Florida Board of Governors. The   Board, which oversees the state’s public universities, was once a party to the lawsuit but withdrew after striking a deal with the legislature to share tuition-setting authority.

The Florida Supreme Court is deciding whether insurance companies can require policy holders to be questioned under oath in order to receive benefits from a Personal Injury Protection or PIP claim.The 11th U.S. circuit Court of Appeals has asked the state court whether the practice is allowed under Florida law.

A Florida man who was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday is being given the chance to prove his insanity. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay of execution for convicted eight-time murderer John Ferguson late Tuesday evening.

Today, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a death-row inmate is mentally fit to be executed. But, lawyers for the man, John Ferguson, plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They say he is a paranoid schizophrenic who’s unable to understand his own death.

Ferguson’s lawyers say, he suffered from mental delusions, even before being convicted of several murders in the 1970's. But the Florida high court is agreeing with a judge who ruled him mentally fit.