Amicus Briefs

Join the conversation and submit your statement in support of the Florida courts to: Amicus@FairandImpartial.com

Judges Are for Sale — and Special Interests Are Buying

A new report details how big business and corporate lobbyists are packing courts with judges who put special interests ahead of the public interest.   The Occupy Wall Street movement is shining a spotlight on how much influence big-money interests have with the White House and Congress. But people are not talking about how big money is also increasingly getting its way with the courts, which is too bad. It’s a scandal that needs more … Continue reading

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Court blocks Florida’s welfare drug testing law

A United States court in Orlando has granted Luis Lebron and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida an injunction against the new state law requiring welfare applicants to be drug tested, temporarily blocking it in the state. The order (.pdf) reads: Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED. It is therefore ORDERED that the State is hereby ENJOINED from requiring Plaintiff to submit to a suspicionless drug test pursuant to … Continue reading

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Appeals court won’t stop Hillsborough judge from considering Islamic law

TAMPA — A Florida appeals court appears to have cleared the way for a Hillsborough judge to use Islamic law to decide a key issue in a lawsuit involving a local mosque. In a case that has attracted national attention, the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Friday denied without comment a petition to prevent Judge Richard Nielsen from invoking Islamic law. The petition, filed by the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, contested a March … Continue reading

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Republicans Turn Judicial Power Into a Campaign Issue

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidates are issuing biting and sustained attacks on the federal courts and the role they play in American life, reflecting and stoking skepticism among conservatives about the judiciary. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas favors term limits for Supreme Court justices. Representatives Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas say they would forbid the court from deciding cases concerning same-sex marriage. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and former Senator … Continue reading

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Guest opinion: Non-judicial foreclosures will kill property rights

Gov. Rick Scott recently voiced support for the renewed effort of the Florida Bankers Association to eliminate judicial foreclosures in Florida and to convert non-judicial foreclosures. One reason cited by Governor Scott was that he “wants to make sure that we have an efficient process, so we don’t create a reason for banks … not to lend money in Florida.” Another reason promoted by the banking lobby is that it takes over 600 days from … Continue reading

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It’s Time to Stop Bullying Judges

The nation has enough problems for legislators and presidential candidates to worry about. So why are they attacking the judiciary? They can’t create jobs for their constituents. They cannot stem the budget shortfalls that are turning their districts into third-world wards. They cannot find solutions to the complex problems raised by the internationalization of world economics. And they dare not take on powerful corporate interests because that would require them to turn on their masters, … Continue reading

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Dear Federal Court: Please Help Florida Suppress the Vote

To: U.S. District Court From: Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning We’re having a small problem with voting down here in Florida. In May, our Legislature passed some brilliant new requirements designed to crack down on unnecessary voters — specifically, people who are poor, move around a lot, and might possibly have brownish skin. We’re not racist or anything; we’re just afraid these folks would lynch us at the polls if they were allowed to … Continue reading

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Scott approves loan to keep Fla. courts afloat

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Rick Scott has approved a $45.6 million loan so Florida’s court system can avoid an impending deficit due mainly to a decline in mortgage foreclosure filing fees. In a letter Tuesday to Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, Scott’s budget director, Jerry McDaniel, wrote that the money must be repaid by next June 30 when the current budget year ends. The court system’s shortfall is expected to total $159 million by … Continue reading

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Fla. lawmaker wants to bring back firing squads

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Saying it’s time to stop letting convicted killers “get off that easy,” a Florida state lawmaker wants to use firing squads or the electric chair for those on death row. Rep. Brad Drake filed a bill this week that would end the use of lethal injection in Florida executions. Instead, those with a death sentence would choose between electrocution or a firing squad. Drake, a Republican, said the idea came to him after … Continue reading

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Courts administrator to Legislature: Fund us, and we’ll move along stalled foreclosures

A panel of lawmakers examined the scope of Florida’s mortgage foreclosure crisis on Tuesday as the Legislature prepares to introduce legislation that would speed up the process. State leaders have already discussed making Florida a non-judicial foreclosure state, an option some believe would resolve cases twice as fast as the judicial route. While that may be nice to consider for the future, the soonest that move could go into effect would likely be July 1, … Continue reading

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Court Resources

The Economist offers another look at the dire budget crises that courts across the country are facing, and concludes that underfunding the courts “weakens the economy as well as access to justice.”  The article begins:  “In theory America’s three branches of government are equal. In practice the judiciary is the weakest, as Alexander Hamilton cautioned in “The Federalist Papers”, because it controls neither sword nor purse. Of late, state legislatures and executives have been closing … Continue reading

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Attacks on the Judiciary

http://caucuses.desmoinesregister.com/2011/09/28/register-exclusive-newt-gingrich-releases-21st-century-contract-with-america Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has unveiled a campaign manifesto entitled the “21st Century Contract with America.” According to the Des Moines Register, a central component of the manifesto is an attack on the judiciary. The Register reports that Gingrich’s campaign platform includes a call to “[r]ein in lawless judges, re-establish a constitutional balance among the three branches of government, and bring the courts back under the Constitution.” Gingrich calls for using “‘the clearly … Continue reading

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Fla. chief justice seeks additional court funding

9/30/2011 by Jessica M. Karmasek TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) — Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has asked Gov. Rick Scott for more funding so the state’s courts can continue to operate. According to The Associated Press, Canady wrote Scott and other state officials this week informing them of a projected $108 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. The court system’s budget is about $361.2 million. Revenues from fees were expected to … Continue reading

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Got Cash?

By Ron Cunningham http://www.gainesville.com/article/20111002/COLUMNISTS/110939958?p=2&tc=pg I’ve seen lots of interesting things while riding the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail. Rattlesnakes and deer and gators, of course. And very large adults on tricked out tricycles. But you know what I’ve yet to see on Paynes Prairie? A billboard that says: “NO CREDIT? NO PROBLEM!” Listen, cyclists have credit problems, too, you know. Not to worry. Our state Legislature is on the case. Next session, lawmakers will consider a bill to … Continue reading

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Our Opinion: Senate must act on pending judicial nominations

The other federal crisis By the Miami Herald Editorial http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/02/2433205/the-other-federal-crisis.html In the month since Congress returned from the summer recess, the crisis over the deficit and federal spending has been the focus of attention, with ideological gridlock obstructing progress. But partisan politics has also produced a separate crisis in the nation’s federal courts. During September, the Senate confirmed a grand total of three federal judges — leaving 95 vacancies in courthouses around the country. This … Continue reading

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Our Opinion: Foreclosure hiatus

Florida needs more order in the courts’ budget Tallahassee Democrat Editorial http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011110020314 That Florida is willing to finance the budget of its court system on how much business the courts do is wrongheaded. It’s unpredictable, and it comes perilously close to cash-register justice — imposing fines, fees and court costs that help pay for the courts’ own budgets. Yet the state’s Supreme Court, five district courts, 20 circuit courts and 67 county courts — whose … Continue reading

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Foreclosure mediation program’s low rate of success leaves its future in doubt

Foreclosure mediation program’s low rate of success leaves its future in doubt By Kimberly Miller Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Florida’s landmark mandatory foreclosure mediation program is under scrutiny by the state courts administrator because of its limited success. Statewide, just 3.6 percent of all cases referred to mediation in a yearlong period beginning in March 2010 ended in a written agreement between the lender and homeowner. In Palm Beach County, which didn’t begin its … Continue reading

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Rick Scott, GOP to consider taking courts out of foreclosure process

The push is on in Florida to cut the courts out of the foreclosure process by Janet Zink Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/21/v-print/2417050/rick-scott-gop-to-consider-taking.html#ixzz1YbJcC7uY Supporters of the concept — which is used in nearly 30 states — say it will speed foreclosures, get houses back onto the real estate market and boost the economy. Opponents say it puts property owners at the mercy of banks. Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos all … Continue reading

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O’Connor against judicial elections

09/13/2011 Jacksonville Daily Record by Joe Wilhelm Jr., Staff Writer Former U.S. Supreme Court Judge Sandra Day O’Connor said Monday that Floridians should vote to eliminate popular elections for the judiciary the next time the issue appears on the ballot.  “Close to 20 states in the United States elect their judges in state elections. No other nation in the world elects its judges,” said O’Connor. The issue was discussed during “A Conversation about Judicial Reform,” … Continue reading

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Our Opinion: Order beyond the court

Focus on civility among attorneys sends a message Tallahassee Democrat Editorial The world around us changes so rapidly that too often our actions go unchecked, tempers are lost, fits are thrown and epithets are hurled, all causing more harm than good — not to mention being utterly unpersuasive. Technology influences how we communicate — in haste. The drive to win overcomes our appreciation for the talents or experience of others. Being pushed to the brink … Continue reading

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UF to Host Panel Discussion on Judicial Reform

 This event is free and open to the public. Please join us for a discussion of judicial reform with a panel consisting of Justice O’Connor and: Former ABA President Martha Barnett, moderator Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Rosemary Barkett Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince Monday, Sept. 12, 10:30 a.m. (doors open at 9:30 a.m.) Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 315 Hull Road, UF Campus, Gainesville This event is the inaugural lecture of … Continue reading

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Threadbare American Justice

NY Times Editorial http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/opinion/threadbare-american-justice.html# It is an American article of faith that the path to justice runs through the courts. State courts, which handle a vast majority of civil and criminal cases, are in a state of crisis. Across the country, deep budget cuts and increased caseloads have created long delays and a denial of basic access to justice.

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Foreclosure backlog down in Florida

  By TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com The backlog of foreclosure cases in Florida courts was cut considerably during a one-year state initiative that brought on retired judges to hear homeowner cases, the Office of State Court Administrators announced Thursday. More than 200,000 cases were disposed between July 1, 2010 and June 30 of this year, slashing the inventory by nearly 45 percent. There are 260,815 foreclosure cases currently pending in Florida courtrooms, with about 72,000 of … Continue reading

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Environmentalists Praise Court Ruling Capitol News Service August 17th, 2011 by Whitney Ray Environmentalists are celebrating yesterday’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that says Governor Rick Scott can’t suspend rulemaking. Now more rules guiding Everglades restoration can be produced. Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida says since Scott’s freeze, protecting the Everglades has been a challenge.

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Courts: Gov. Scott overstepped his authority

  Case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a blind Opa-locka woman who charged governor’s action was causing delays. Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/16/2361564/florida-courts-gov-scott-overstepped.html#ixzz1VOG8XEzm By Janet Zink Herald/TimesTallahassee Bureau TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Gov. Rick Scott “overstepped his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers” with an executive order freezing all pending rules until he could approve them. In a 5-2 opinion, the court concluded that rule-making authority belongs to … Continue reading

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Florida Governor Encroached on State Legislature, Court Rules.

Florida Governor Encroached on State Legislature, Court Rules Wall Street Journal (blog) By Nathan Koppel Getty Images When Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott took office in January he launched an effort to get rid of administrative regulations he believed were unduly burdening state businesses and hindering economic growth. Scott passed an executive order suspending the right of state executive agencies to adopt regulations unless the regs were first approved by a newly created Office of … Continue reading

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Florida Supreme Court: Rick Scott overstepped his authority

Florida Supreme Court: Rick Scott overstepped his authority | TBO.com By CATHERINE WHITTENBURG | The Tampa Tribune TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court dealt a blow to Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday, finding that he overstepped his constitutional authority when he suspended rulemaking by state agencies. Ruling against Scott in favor of a low-income blind woman from South Florida, the justices said in a 5-2 opinion that Scott had violated the separation of powers between … Continue reading

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Fla. Supreme Court Invalidates Part of Scott Rulemaking Order

Fla. Supreme Court Invalidates Part of Scott Rulemaking Order WCTV Gov. Rick Scott overstepped his legal bounds when he put a hold on proposed agency rules, keeping them from going into effect until they could be reviewed by the governor’s office, a divided state Supreme Court said.

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Florida Governor Scott’s Orders Exceeded Authority, State High Court Rules

Florida Governor Scott’s Orders Exceeded Authority, State High Court Rules Bloomberg Florida Governor Rick Scott overstepped his authority by suspending state-agency rulemaking and requiring agencies to seek permission to issue new regulations from an accountability office he created, the state’s highest court decided. The Florida Supreme Court said today that the Republican governor violated the separation of powers and overstepped his constitutional authority. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a Florida food stamp … Continue reading

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Our justice system has been cut to the bone

Our justice system has been cut to the bone  08/06/2011 © Miami Herald There’s a new contender for the most-used verb in America: cut. Cutting the federal deficit was the basis of the raging congressional debate that just ended. It was the centerpiece of many actions taken by the Florida Legislature during its recent session. It’s also a word on the lips of many corporate executives, and many of us as we tighten our own … Continue reading

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Sometime-Foes Boies and Olson Honored with ABA Medal for Successful Joint Efforts

Sometime-Foes Boies and Olson Honored with ABA Medal for Successful Joint Efforts By Rachel M. Zahorsky David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, co-chairs of the ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System, were honored with the ABA’s highest award, the ABA Medal, by the House of Delegates today. “David and I know we wouldn’t have received this award if not for the things we’ve been doing together,” Olson said in a brief acceptance … Continue reading

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O’Connor: Lawyers & Judges Need to Wake Up to Judicial Funding Threat, Prep for Political Battle

O’Connor: Lawyers & Judges Need to Wake Up to Judicial Funding Threat, Prep for Political Battle ABA Journal By James Podgers Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed concern Sunday that not even lawyers and members of the judiciary fully recognize the threat to state courts posed by funding cutbacks being imposed by state legislatures. “No one, not even lawyers and judges, understands what a financial bind the courts are in,” said O’Connor … Continue reading

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Olson, Boies call for court aid

TORONTO, Aug. 7 (Reuters) – Some of the biggest names in the legal profession called on lawyers Sunday to unite to save the courts. “We, as lawyers, are sitting on our hands,” said Ted Olson, former U.S. Solicitor General from 2001 to 2004. Now a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Olson spoke at the American Bar Association annual meeting in Toronto. Speaking as part of a “Current Crisis in Court Funding” panel, Olson and … Continue reading

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Don’t blame Florida Supreme Court for the backlog of inmates on state’s death row

Don’t blame Florida Supreme Court for the backlog of inmates on state’s death row Orlando Sentinel | July 27, 2011 When the Florida Supreme Court delayed a condemned cop killer’s execution this week, it seemed to bolster an argument heard in the state Capitol this year that the justices are to blame for a pileup of prisoners on death row. But the evidence doesn’t support that argument. And state House Speaker Dean Cannon’s plan to … Continue reading

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Judges not swayed by personal views, but by rule of law

When discussing judges, the media and others routinely make a point of identifying the political party of the individual who appointed them, with the obvious intent being to convey the belief that a judge is politically and philosophically aligned with the person who appointed him or her.  Of course, the underlying message is that, because the judge is politically and philosophically aligned with the person who appointed him or her, the outcome is likely to … Continue reading

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Justice Watch: Legislature to blame for death penalty conundrum

Justice Watch: Legislature to blame for death penalty conundrum 07/11/2011 © Miami Daily Business Review There are 399 people on Florida’s death row, more than a quarter of them put there in the last decade. Many of the later arrivals could be asking for new sentences because of the persistence of Paul H. Evans, who was sentenced to death in a 1991 murder-for-hire. It took 16 failed habeas petitions in state courts before a Miami … Continue reading

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Gavel to Gavel June 2011 Legislative Review

This video from Gavel to Gavel tracks the judiciary battles being fought across the United States.

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TIME’s Inbox, July 4 issue:

Trial by Live Feed RE John Cloud’s story in the Casey Anthony trial [June 27] : I am watching the trial because I am so impressed with Judge Belvin Perry Jr. He is fair, impartial, intelligent and nurturing toward the jurors, and he knows his law. A huge plus is that he never plays to the ever present TV cameras. Justice for the viewers, finally! Barbara Kreher, Melbourne, FL

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Death Warrant Signed, Commission Killed

Death Warrant Signed, Commission Killed July 1st, 2011 | Capitol News Service By Whitney Ray The death penalty is dead in Illinois beginning today, but in Florida it’s still very much alive. Governor Rick Scott signed his first death warrant. Now a man accused of killing a Coral Gables police officer more than 30 years ago is set to die. As Whitney Ray tells us, Manuel Valle will be the first Florida prisoner killed with a … Continue reading

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Editorial: State must fix funding for courts

Editorial: State must fix funding for courts Jun. 29, 2011  | News Press The fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants funding for court systems across Florida is intolerable. A stable, adequate source of revenue for the system must be found, even if it means a special session of the Legislature. The courts provide one of the most basic, essential government services, mandated by the Florida Constitution. The orderly, timely adjudication of criminal and civil cases is necessary for society to function … Continue reading

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Courts face funding crisis

Courts face funding crisis News Press | June 28, 2011 Judge: System could be broke by fall This week marks the start of what will be a tenuous budget year in court systems across the state, with revenue sources shriveling and a heavy reliance on loans just to keep dockets moving. The courts are entering the new fiscal year July 1 with no money and the pledge of an additional $54 million loan from the … Continue reading

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HJR 7111 Floor Debate

Watch a video of the HJR 7111 Floor Debate right here.

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Four past, current justices given independence awards

Four past, current justices given independence awards By Stacey Singer, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Tuesday, June 14, 2011 PALM BEACH – At their annual state association dinner on Saturday, criminal defense lawyers spent their evening defending not a person, but an idea: the concept of separation of powers in Florida government. West Palm Beach attorney Richard Lubin presented judicial independence awards to two current and two former Florida Supreme Court justices with West Palm Beach ties. He … Continue reading

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Texas Supreme Court Justice opines on split court ineffeciencies

“The history of Texas courts is indeed a sclerotic one. But all’s well that ends well, and even a helter-skelter judicial structure might be worth the strife if it still managed, despite itself, to produce efficiency. Ours hasn’t.” Click here to read opinion from Texas Supreme Court Justice blasting the split court system some Florida lawmakers want to emulate.

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This State law battles could be costly

This State law battles could be costly By Catherine Whittenburg | The Tampa Tribune Published: June 04, 2011 TALLAHASSEE — For the second time this week, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it is hauling Gov. Rick Scott into court — this time, over a controversial makeover of Florida’s election laws — as another group prepares to sue him over a new law restricting what doctors can ask their patients. More court challenges are expected … Continue reading

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Cut the governor’s power

Cut the governor’s power By The Palm Beach Post, Posted: 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 27, 2011 Without Jeb Bush and the Legislature, the judge who stands accused of damaging the entire Florida court system never could have become a judge. Paul Hawkes had an undistinguished career during 14 years as a lawyer. But the ex-legislator became part of the Bush administration in 2000. For the next two years, he was chief of policy for the House. In early 2003, Mr. … Continue reading

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Florida death-penalty process is overdue for review

Florida death-penalty process is overdue for review May 27, 2011|By Raoul G. Cantero & Mark R. Schlakman | Special to the Sentinel A commission established by the Florida Legislature almost 15 years ago to monitor the administration of justice in death penalty post-conviction proceedings has itself been sentenced to death. The unintended consequences may be significant. The Commission on Capital Cases, a relatively obscure entity, was abolished earlier this month purportedly to “save” $400,000 in … Continue reading

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Our Opinion: Governor needs to veto court study

Our Opinion: Governor needs to veto court study Tallahassee Democrat, Published: May 24, 2011 Gov. Rick Scott has made efforts to avoid what he considers politics-as-usual and simply march to his own drummer to the tune of corporate America. Against his inclinations, however, the governor finds himself drawn into political back-scratching predicaments where, to get what he wants, he has to do what powerful legislators want. Case in point is a ridiculously large — because … Continue reading

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OPPAGA gets ready to bid out Supreme Court workload study

OPPAGA gets ready to bid out Supreme Court workload study By Gary Blankenship, Senior Editor The Florida Bar News A legislative agency charged with contracting a study of Florida’s Supreme Court will soon be seeking proposals from companies and agencies for that job. Lawmakers appropriated up to $400,000 to study splitting the Supreme Court into criminal and civil divisions and whether the court is efficiently and qualitatively handling its workload. That appropriation came in the … Continue reading

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This Law tilts ballot battles

Law tilts ballot battles By Catherine Whittenburg | The Tampa Tribune Published: May 24, 2011 TALLAHASSEE –A new law has made it easier for the Legislature — but harder for citizens — to change Florida’s Constitution.When state lawmakers tried last year to propose constitutional amendments to voters concerning property taxes, the new federal health care law and the redistricting of political boundaries, they ran headlong into challenges at the state Supreme Court, which removed all … Continue reading

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My Word: Policy wins over politics

My Word: Policy wins over politics By David Simmons Orlando Sentinel 12:00 AM EDT, May 22, 2011 When I was elected to the Florida Senate in 2010, I did not expect that the greatest challenge of the 2011 session would be stopping an attempt by the speaker of the Florida House to split the Florida Supreme Court into two parts, civil and criminal divisions. It would have increased the size of the court from seven … Continue reading

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Legislature leaves its “watchdog agency” toothless

Legislature leaves its “watchdog agency” toothless Editorial: South Florida Sun Sentinel May 22, 2011 THE ISSUE: Lawmakers put the squeeze on its auditing agency. Hypocrisy might be a bit strong, but one has to wonder why the Florida Legislature, which seemed so insistent on new measurements for teachers, government employees and state agencies, turned around and severely weakened the one agency that measures the work of lawmakers. Republican legislative leaders now call the shots at the … Continue reading

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‘Taj Mahal’ courthouse judge must go

‘Taj Mahal’ courthouse judge must go St.Petersburg Times Editorial, Thursday, May 19, 2011 The arrogance, bullying and duplicity of 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Paul M. Hawkes has been well documented. Now new charges from Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission have uncovered even more evidence that Hawkes, a former political operative who orchestrated the building of the “Taj Mahal” courthouse in Tallahassee, is not fit to sit on the bench. From ordering the destruction of … Continue reading

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Rating Florida’s Senate: Leaders and letdowns

Rating Florida’s Senate: Leaders and letdowns The Orlando Sentinel  May 15, 2011 The extremist political agenda in Tallahassee this session sometimes proved too hot even for Central Florida’s Republican senators to handle. Yet too often they, along with the region’s Democratic senator, were willing accomplices.Which forces us, in a year that saw lawmakers blitz programs for education, elections and the environment, to judge their performance on a curve. Otherwise, none would make the grade.

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State Sen. Jack Latvala leveraged his vote to slow down conservative march

State Sen. Jack Latvala leveraged his vote to slow down conservative march By Michael C. Bender, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau May 11, 2011 Jack Latvala builds ever-shifting coalitions to temper some fellow Republicans’ efforts in the Legislature. TALLAHASSEE – State Sen. Jack Latvala failed to pass 29 of the 38 bills he sponsored this year, but he might have been the session’s most effective lawmaker. “Jack was the MVP,” said Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate. Latvala, 58, … Continue reading

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Florida Legislature: From Machiavelli to Orwell

Florida Legislature: From Machiavelli to Orwell Posted by Dick Batchelor on May, 11 2011 There are 120 members of the Florida House of Representatives, with 40 men and women in the Florida Senate. Given the Machiavellian manner in which House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos grabbed control of the Legislature and the budget, not to mention substantive legislation, perhaps there is need for a smaller House and a smaller Senate, with only Cannon, … Continue reading

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Republican court overhaul fell short of original goal

Republican court overhaul fell short of original goal By Adolfo Pesquera, Daily Business Review | May 11, 2011 So sweeping was the breadth of changes the Legislature intended to inflict on the Florida judiciary, it helps to summarize the session by listing what won’t happen. The state Supreme Court won’t split in two, and it won’t be packed with three new Republican-picked justices. The Florida Bar won’t be removed from the selection of Judicial Nominating … Continue reading

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Attack on judicial independence

Attack on judicial independence Herald-Tribune | May 10, 2011 Resistance was not futile. Because a small band of state senators — including Nancy Detert, a Sarasota County Republican — resisted pressure from their party’s leadership, a proposal to undermine judicial independence and further politicize the appointment of judges in Florida was defeated. These conservative contrarians, who held fast to their belief in the separation of powers, deserve credit from all Floridians who hold the same … Continue reading

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Cannon’s $400,000 folly

Cannon’s $400,000 folly If at first you don’t succeed, finance a study Tallahassee Democrat | May 10, 2011 House Speaker Dean Cannon’s petulant ambitions to reform and rein in the state Supreme Court do nothing to enhance his reputation, or Florida’s. On Sunday, the New York Times marveled at Mr. Cannon’s “brazenly partisan court-packing plan” and “specious arguments” about problems to be solved — which were debunked. Mr. Cannon’s plan to split the court into … Continue reading

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No good reason to squander $400,000 to study a Supreme Court makeover

No good reason to squander $400,000 to study a Supreme Court makeover The Orlando Sentinel | May 7, 2011 House Speaker Dean Cannon’s politically driven proposal to divide and pack the Florida Supreme Court is dead — for now. It expired this week after running into bipartisan opposition from senators who recognized it as an assault on the independence of the state’s highest court. But because the speaker won’t take no for an answer, the … Continue reading

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Standing up for Florida’s Courts

New York Times EDITORIAL Published: May 7, 2011 A handful of Republican state senators in Florida bucked G.O.P. leaders last week to help Democrats block a brazenly partisan court-packing plan from gaining a place on next year’s ballot. Championed by the state’s Republican House speaker, Dean Cannon, and approved by his chamber, the plan called for expanding the Supreme Court from seven to 10 justices, and splitting the bench into two separate five-member divisions for … Continue reading

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Vindictive speaker helps abolish the state death penalty commission

Vindictive speaker helps abolish the state death penalty commission News-Press | May 5, 2011 How much is life-and-death information worth? We have an answer: $370,000. That, apparently, is too much. The Florida Commission on Capital Cases was eliminated Thursday in an unexpected, undiscussed, unfathomable conference of legislators. The House put into a budget conforming bill – late in the session, without any previous hearings, at an Appropriations Committee meeting – repeal of the state law … Continue reading

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Legislature passes overhaul of state courts

Legislature passes overhaul of state courts The Miami Herald| May 5, 2011 The Associated Press TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers have put a watered down court-system overhaul on the November 2012 ballot, where it’ll need 60 percent voter approval. The proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 7111) received final legislative approval in the Senate by a 24-11 vote – the bare minimum needed for passage. The Senate earlier removed a provision from the House proposal that would … Continue reading

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Backsliding after the Sansom scandal?

Backsliding after the Sansom scandal? By Gary Fineout | May 05, 2011 One of the things that did change in the wake of the arrest of former House Speaker Ray Sansom is that lawmakers changed the way they handled the state budget. Sansom was charged with using his power as budget chairman to slip in $6 million for a project being sought by a developer and donor. The charges against the Destin Republican were dropped … Continue reading

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Florida Senate Approves Controversial Overhaul of state Supreme Court

Florida Senate Approves Controversial Overhaul of state Supreme Court The Wall Street Journal, Law Blog | May 4, 2011 The Florida Supreme Court (pictured) has been the subject of close legislative scrutiny in recent weeks, as lawmakers in the Sunshine State have been contemplating splitting the court into civil and criminal divisions — a proposal that critics have derided as a partisan effort to allow Republicans to appoint like-minded jurists.

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Unfortunately, the assault on Florida’s court system is not over.

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NEWS For Immediate Release: May 4, 2011 In a short-lived victory for Floridians, clearer heads prevailed in the Senate when they rejected the House’s plan to split the Supreme Court into civil and criminal divisions, add more justices and give the Governor the power to appoint the chief justice. But tucked in the budget agreement between the House and the Senate is $400,000 to fund a study of whether a split court would be more … Continue reading

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Case closed: No new study

Case closed: No new study By The Palm Beach Post | May 3, 2011 Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, deservedly lost his attempt to undermine the independence of the Florida Supreme Court. Rather than accept defeat, however, he may turn into a sore loser and use his office to gear up for a similar attempt next year.

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The House proposes, the Senate disposes

The House proposes, the Senate disposes By Howard Troxler, The St.Petersburg Times | May 4, 2011 Some people say Florida should switch to a one-chamber Legislature, like Nebraska. The theory seems to be the fewer politicians, the better. Not me, Jack. Can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve muttered to myself: “Thank God for the Senate.” (I say this about the House once in a while, but not as often.)

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Cannon’s Supreme Court changes get budget love

Cannon’s Supreme Court changes get budget love By Kathleen Haughney May 4, 2011 10:46 AM Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel House Speaker Dean Cannon may not have gotten a total win on his Supreme Court reform plan after the Senate refused to go along with his plan as a whole, but he isn’t completely letting the issue die. Tucked inside the budget is $400,000 for a study to review and make recommendations on how the Supreme … Continue reading

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Court splitting study gets $400k in budget

Court splitting study gets $400k in budget The Florida Times-Union PolitiJax Blog | May 4, 2011 Tucked in the legislature’s $70 billion budget is $400,000 for a study to, among other things, look at whether the Supreme Court could be “enhanced” if it were split into civil and criminal panels. If you recall, expanding and splitting the Supreme Court was a top priority of House Speaker Dean Cannon, but he could not get the plan … Continue reading

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