Tag Archives: fair courts
I voted early and chose, “Yes” to retain the three Florida Supreme Court Justices up for merit retention. Here is why. “Merit retention,” was wisely put into place so that voters could get rid of justices who dishonor their office, not to mock our system of checks and balances. Read more here: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20121029/OPINION/121029549/1109/sports?Title=Charlie-Crist-Vote-Yes-for-merit-retention&tc=ar.
Amendment 5 is one of the 11 legislatively proposed amendments to Florida’s constitution on the November ballot. It presents three different and distinct proposed changes to how Florida’s court system is constitutionally structured. Read more here: http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2012/oct/28/vwviewo1-a-threat-to-our-courts-ar-545818/.
As the election nears, voters are taking a look at this year’s lengthy ballot. Amid the clutter is a terribly troubling power play by elements of the Florida Republican Party. Some conservatives are urging voters to vote against the retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices. Read more here: http://www2.hernandotoday.com/news/hernando-news/2012/oct/28/conservatives-taking-aim-at-three-supreme-court-ju-ar-546995/.
The dust-up over using state employees to finalize election ballot paperwork for the merit retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices is more political jockeying than a legitimate concern over lawbreaking. A conservative legislator upset with the court is exploiting the situation by calling for a criminal investigation. In fact, public employees commonly notarize election documents, and a cursory review should suffice. Gov. Rick Scott should not inappropriately politicize the merit retention election in November … Continue reading
In a precedent-setting legal opinion, First District Court of Appeals Judge Phil Padovano ruled today that legislators are entitled to the common law immunity from prosecution and cannot be compelled to testify about how they arrived at their decisions. Download 1st DCA ruling on legislative immunity. The ruling reversed a trial court decision that had forced Rep. Rick Kriseman, a Tampa Democrat, and his aide to testify about the source of legal documents they obtained during the … Continue reading
A couple of attorneys I respect expressed concern last week about two words — “activist judge” — in the lead of my story about Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling on the 3 percent Florida Retirement System contribution law. I’d put quotation marks around the term, and attributed it in a complete sentence to Senate President Mike Haridopolos lower in the story. But I realize those two words are a pejorative pairing, one we’ll be hearing a lot … Continue reading
A truly conservative Florida Legislature would not have done what the 2012 Legislature tried to do to the state court system. A truly conservative Florida Legislature would not even have considered giving the governor complete power to pick judges. But despite its claims to the contrary, this is not a conservative Florida Legislature. It is an ideological Florida Legislature that doesn’t believe in separation of powers. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/columnists/schultz-conservatives-in-tallahassee-arent-true-conservatives-2228428.html
Highlights from the redistricting opinion summarized by the Miami Herald: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/03/highlights-of-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-redistricting.html
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday followed the will of the voters who demanded more reasonably drawn legislative districts. The court’s landmark redistricting opinion thoughtfully defined the constitutional amendment approved in 2010 and invalidated new state Senate districts for clearly failing to meet those requirements. This is a victory for Floridians who want fair elections and a sound defeat for drawing maps that rig the outcomes and protect incumbents. http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1219285.ece
By Alex VillalobosMarch 10, 2012 Fair and impartial administration of justice is a difficult and delicate balancing act — and it is one that I believe all seven members of the Florida Supreme Court perform admirably day in and day out. Floridians are well served when tough questions are met with thorough debate and analysis and decided based on each individual Justices careful consideration of what they believe to be mandated by our state … Continue reading
Following is a statement issued by former Senator Alex Villalobos on behalf of Democracy at Stake: “Fair and impartial administration of justice is a difficult and delicate balancing act. And it is one that the seven members of the Florida Supreme Court perform admirably day in and day out. “The politically charged debate over redistricting has focused public attention on a deliberative process that is business as usual for our state’s high court. The … Continue reading
House Speaker Dean Cannon: “We appreciate the preparation, thorough review and thoughtfulness of the court’s response. Throughout the redistricting process, the House demonstrated a commitment to following the letter of the law, and I am proud of Speaker-Designate Weatherford and all of our Members who worked so hard to craft this new map. We understand the difficulty of the court’s duty to review the application of new constitutional language. We appreciate the court providing input as … Continue reading
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court on Friday tossed out the proposed state Senate legislative maps, forcing lawmakers to start over in a special session later this month. http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/workinglife/supreme-court-tosses-proposed-senate-maps/1219161
News Release AJS Releases Results of Largest-Ever Survey of Judicial Nominating Commissioners Des Moines, IA, — March 6, 2012 —As states work to ensure highly qualified, knowledgeable, accessible, adaptable, and accountable judiciaries, the methods used to select judges frequently engender fervent debate, especially during election cycles. In recent years, many states that elect judges have witnessed increasing campaign spending and bitter rhetoric, leading some to consider the adoption of merit selection, a … Continue reading
Nothing is more fundamental to our society than faith in the honesty of the political system. Without that trust — the belief that elections are run honestly — our whole society is shaken because the exercise of political power determines how we, as a society, operate: How much taxes each of us pays and how many services the government provides, and who has access to those services. Read more: http://www.newschief.com/article/20120303/NEWS/203035004
NPR – Audio Clip Monday, February 20, 2012 Florida’s legislature has released its new legislative and congressional maps as part of the once-every-decade redistricting process, and the lawsuits are already flying. Democrats and watchdog groups say the new maps violate constitutional amendments that require districts to be drawn without regard to political parties or incumbents. The process is likely to be tied up in the courts for months, but the proposed maps are already having … Continue reading
OUR OPINION: There are creative ways to provide legal aid to Florida’s poor seeking justice in civil matters By The Miami Herald Editorial HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com The fund that pays for lawyers to represent poor people in civil cases has seen its budget tank 88 percent since 2008. That means the percentage of eligible clients who are turned away, now 20 percent, will certainly rise. This nation, a beacon of hope for so many around the world … Continue reading
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, February 21, 2012……With about a week to go until oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court over the state’s plan for legislative redistricting, justices are already fighting about how far the court can go in reviewing the new maps. In what could amount to a victory for opponents of the proposal for carving up House and Senate districts (SJR 1176), the court issued an order Tuesday calling for the Florida Democratic Party … Continue reading
We recently received a campaign email from Chief Justice Chuck Malone. Malone, who was appointed chief justice last August by Gov. Robert Bentley, was offering an upbeat message to his friends and supporters. “For the first time, we have a completely Republican Supreme Court and I am honored to be able to serve the people of Alabama as Chief Justice of that court and to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in our … Continue reading
[Atlanta, GA] Corrine Brown lost her high-profile battle against the will of the Florida electorate. The “Fair Districts” amendment stands for now, anyway. A federal appellate court on Tuesday upheld a 2010 constitutional amendment that attempts to ensure that congressional political districts are drawn fairly, rejecting an appeal backed by the Republican-led Florida Legislature. In a 32-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected claims by U.S. … Continue reading
NORTHFIELD, N.H. – Taking a page from rival Newt Gingrich, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday leveled tough criticism at the judiciary, saying judges have become too powerful and that as president he would do away with some courts. Speaking to a crowd of 200 at a town hall at Merrimack Valley Railroad, Santorum said the courts needs to be reined in. “The third branch of government is in fact too powerful in the … Continue reading
By The Palm Beach Post Paul Hawkes is gone, but Florida taxpayers and the state court system will feel the damage he caused for years. In August 2010, Lucy Morgan of the St. Petersburg Times reported that Mr. Hawkes, a judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal, had conspired with legislators in 2007 to secure a $35 million bond issue for a 1st DCA courthouse in Tallahassee that is much more lavish than the … Continue reading
On Monday at Florida State University, the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights will host a forum meant to shift the conversation about capital punishment — from whether it’s good public policy to its fiscal implications and integrity. Five years ago, the American Bar Association released its Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team report, which raised serious concerns about the fairness and impartiality of Florida’s death penalty process. It called for a complete review of … Continue reading
A Washington Post editorial describes the findings of the New Politics of Judicial Elections: 2009-2010 as “disturbing.” According to the editorial, “[t]he notion of impartial justice for all is obliterated when judges are forced to think like politicians and to curry favor with monied interests just to keep their jobs.” Meanwhile, another Post article discusses how retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has spoken out against the general trend of increasing politicization of the judiciary … Continue reading
Two studies scheduled to be released Thursday offer contrasting predictions for the 2012 elections: Outside groups are likely to spend more money than ever, but many top corporations may not be among them. The first analysis, by a trio of advocacy organizations, found that almost a third of the money spent on state judicial elections last year came from outside interest groups — a dramatic departure from historic norms. The authors argue that the pattern … Continue reading
Twenty years ago, a study commission found that “Minorities are significantly underrepresented as judges in Florida in proportion to their numbers in the general population …” A follow-up study in 2000 found some improvement, especially at the high-court level, but “the judiciary as a whole still does not accurately reflect the rich cultural diversity of our state.” Eleven years later, that assessment still holds true. Too little progress has been made. The Florida Legislative Black … Continue reading
Without an independent judiciary, Florida’s constitutional government loses its balance. And without an adequately and reliably funded court system, justice for the ordinary citizen is delayed, perhaps denied. Since July 1, the governor has had to loan almost $100 million to the system to keep the courts running, after a collapse in the court filing fees and fines that the system now relies on. Financial vulnerability not only threatens the courts’ ability to handle the … Continue reading
By Judge Kevin S. Burke Last week I unintentionally started a debate with the Newt Gingrich campaign by writing a commentary entitled “Gingrich Attacks on the Courts: Should We Listen to Him? ” Gingrich clearly did not like what I had to say and responded by posting a point-by-point rebuttal on his official website, later reprinted by MinnPost. (Well, in fairness to him, his staff posted it.) The response is even more remarkable than Gingrich’s previous … Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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