Florida Supreme Court

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.

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.

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

Flickr Creative Commons

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.

JonJon2k8 / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

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