Florida Supreme Court

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.

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.

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.