Florida Supreme Court

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.

The seven-member Florida Supreme  Court poses for a photo in the courtroom.
Florida Supreme Court / Florida Supreme Court

Amendment five does three things. It gives the Senate a chance to confirm new Supreme Court Justices once they’ve been selected by a state judicial nominating committee and appointed by the governor. It makes it easier for the state to change rules about how the court functions and it gives the Speaker of the House access to documents from the judicial qualifications commission used in the review of a judge. The House already has the ability to investigate any charges against a judge.

Floridians across the state are paying for nuclear power plants that some say may never be built. A state law let’s utilities charge customers for the plants before they even start construction, but now some are questioning the constitutionality of that measure

The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a child-custody dispute between two women. Legal experts say, the case highlights how state law does not reflect scientific advances and the variety of family structures that exist in Florida.


When Kamaria Jackson started attending Florida A&M University a few years ago, her tuition bill was about $2,000 to $3,000 a semester. Nowadays it’s around $5,000. Her mother makes too much money to qualify for federal financial aid. And that means Jackson has had to pay for her education out-of-pocket.

The Florida Supreme Court took up a long-running lawsuit Thursday over whether the legislature or the university governing board has the right to set tuition.The Florida Board of Governors was once a party to the lawsuit but withdrew after striking a deal with the legislature to share tuition-setting authority. But the lawsuit continued. It was filed by former Governor Bob Graham and others who say the board should have that authority.

The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a child-custody battle between two women.

There’s not a clear precedent in the state for same-sex custody disputes like this one.

The Brevard County couple conceived their daughter using one woman’s eggs and the other’s womb. But, ever since the couple split up, the birth mother has denied the biological mother custody.

Justice Barbara Pariente asked whether a biological mother should have the same constitutional rights as a man who fathers a child out of wedlock.  

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners wants the state's highest court to weigh in on whether it should waive its rules and allow an undocumented immigrant to become a lawyer. The Florida Supreme Court took up the case Tuesday, but appeared skeptical about claims that it has the authority to admit Jose Godinez-Samperio to the Florida Bar.

Florida’s police and firefighter unions are coming out in support of the three Florida Supreme Court justices who are up for a vote on this year’s ballot about whether they’ll keep their jobs. And the law enforcement officers are criticizing the Florida Republican Party for taking sides in what they say should be a nonpartisan issue.

Florida Supreme Court

Media campaigns against three Florida Supreme Court justices are accusing them of making decisions based on political leanings. But, the judges’ supporters argue, it’s campaigns like that, not the judges, who are injecting politics into what’s supposed to be a non-partisan branch of government.

In 1998, former Florida governors, Democrat Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush, jointly appointed Justice Peggy Quince to the Florida Supreme Court.

Justices Find Support Amidst Growing Efforts To Oust Them

Sep 24, 2012

For the first time, The Republican Party of Florida is taking sides in Florida’s judicial merit retention.

On Friday, the Republican Party of Florida released a statement openly opposing the retention of three Florida Supreme Court Justices.  Merit retention gives voters a say once every six years on whether a justice should keep their jobs.  In a written statement, the Republican Party of Florida called Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince “extreme and took a stance opposing their retention. 

Florida supreme court upholds controversial drug law

Jul 12, 2012

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday citizens can now be prosecuted for illegal drug possession, even if they didn’t know they had them. In most other states, intent or knowledge of wrongdoing is necessary to be tried for a criminal action. But that was cut out of the criminal section of Florida’s drug law back in 2002. Supports of the law said the ruling was a major victory for the war on drugs.

Charges won’t be filed against three Florida Supreme Court judges who use court employees to notarize their elections paperwork. Earlier in the year the court put a hearing on hold to allow the justices to turn those documents in. A court employee notarized those filings. An FDLE report called the practice “common”, but the state attorney’s office says the infraction is minor.

Should public defenders be able to excuse themselves from future cases if their current case load is too high? And should criminal defendants have the right to change their pleas within a month of the original plea? These were the questions the Florida Supreme Court considered in Thursday’s oral arguments.

A $300,000 campaign is underway to educate Florida voters on the importance of knowing all the facts before they elect appeals court judges as well as Supreme Court Justices on the November ballot. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the initiative to let Floridians know about the state’s judicial merit retention elections comes just as conservative opposition is mounting against three Supreme Court Justices.

The Florida Supreme court is considering what some call the most important foreclosure case in the country.  Regan McCarthy reports the justices are looking into whether banks should be allowed to re-file a case, if the lawsuit they originally filed used fraudulent documents. 

The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether a bank that used fraudulent documents should be allowed to dismiss a case and refile it later with different paperwork.  Regan McCarthy reports the high court is looking into a case that goes back to the robo-signing scandal that overtook Florida a few years ago.

The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether a group seeking a class-action lawsuit against a check-advance company should be allowed to move forward with the case. Regan McCarthy reports The company argues the individuals signed contracts waiving their rights to class-action suits.

The Florida Supreme Court is looking into a number of cases in which immigrants say they weren’t told taking a plea bargain would lead to their deportation. Regan McCarthy reports now they’re asking for their pleas to be thrown out.

The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether out-of-state residents can qualify for the state’s property tax exemptions if they have dependents permanently living in their Florida homes. Lynn Hatter reports the case stems from a dispute over whether a couple from Honduras could receive an exemption because their children are U.S. Citizens.