Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court denying Appellant's motion for a determination of intellectual disability as a bar to execution and his amended successive motion for postconviction relief, holding that relief was properly denied.Appellant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Appellant later filed a successive motion for postconviction relief seeking to vacate his death sentence on the ground that he was intellectually disabled. Appellant also brought claims under Hurst v. Florida, 577 U.S. 92 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The trial court ultimately denied Appellant's intellectual disability and Hurst-related claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in denying relief. View "Haliburton v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court held that an initiative petition circulated pursuant to Fla. Const. art. XI, 3 was affirmatively misleading and that the proposed initiative should not be placed on the ballot.At issue was an initiative petition sponsored by Sensible Florida, Inc. entitled "Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions." The Attorney General asked whether the proposed amendment complied with the constitutional single-subject requirement and whether the ballot title and summary complied with the clarity requirements of FLa. Stat. 101.161(1). The Supreme Court held that certain language in the ballot summary was affirmatively misleading and failed to comply with section 101.161(1) and should not be placed on the ballot. View "Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General Re: Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, & Other Restrictions" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for review of the decision of the First District Court of appeal concluding that it was not error for a successor judge to deny Petitioner's Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.800(b) motion, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction.In seeking review, Petitioner argued that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction because of the lower court's decision's "apparent conflict" with the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in Gay v. State, 898 So. 2d 1203 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005) and because the decision affected judges. The Supreme Court denied review, holding that the district court decisions alleged to be in conflict were materially distinguishable, and therefore, the Supreme Court had no discretion to review due to lack of jurisdiction. View "Kartsonis v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court accepted certification of a question about theUnderground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Fla. Stat. Chapter 556, and answered that the Act creates a standalone cause of action and that the cause of action sounds in negligence.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified the question of whether a member-operator has a cause of action under Fla. Stat. 556.106(2)(a)-(c) to recover damages or obtain indemnification from an excavator for payments to a third party for personal injuries related to the excavator's alleged violation of the statute. The Supreme Court answered (1) liability under the Act is subject to proof of proximate causation and to the defense of comparative fault; (2) losses recoverable under the Act can include purely economic damages, independent of personal injury or property damage; and (3) the Act does not create a cause of action for statutory indemnity. View "Peoples Gas System v. Posen Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this legal malpractice action by an insurer against a law firm retained to represent its insured in a separate prior litigation, the Supreme Court held that, where the insurer had a duty to defend, the insurer had standing through its contractual subrogation provision to maintain the malpractice action against counsel hired to represent the insured.The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the law firm, concluding that the insurer lacked standing to directly pursue a legal malpractice action because there was no privity between the law firm and the insurer. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the insurer lacked standing to pursue the professional negligence action. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that the insurer had standing to maintain this legal malpractice action because the insurer was contractually surrogated to the insured's rights under the insurance policy. View "Arch Insurance Co. v. Kubicki Draper, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for first-degree murder and his sentence of death, holding that Defendant's claims on appeal failed.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court's failure to renew an offer of counsel before commencing the penalty phase did not constitute fundamental error because the trial court cured the error; (2) no error occurred as a result of the prosecutor's statement that he would ask the jury to return a recommendation of death; (3) a challenged guilt-phase instruction was in error, but the error was not fundamental; (4) Defendant waived his claim that a Fifth Amendment violation occurred; (5) the trial court did not err in instructing the penalty-phase jury; and (6) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. View "Allen v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the Second District Court of Appeal's decision holding, in pertinent part, that the trial court erred in failing to notify J.A.R. of his asserted right to a hearing to challenge the $100 public defender fee imposed at sentencing, holding that the Second District erred in striking the public defender's fee.The trial court adjudicated J.A.R. delinquent for committing two felonies and a misdemeanor. In addition, the court imposed a $100 public defender fee under Fla. Stat. 938.29 without apprising J.A.R. of the fee or informing him of the right to a hearing to contest the fee. The Second District struck the fee on the grounds that the trial court did not give J.A.R. notice of his right to a hearing to contest the fee. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that since the $100 public defender fee was the statutory minimum under section 938.29(1)(a), the trial court was not required to provide notice and hearing as to that fee. View "State v. J.A.R." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law
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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the First District Court of Appeals partially upholding a temporary injunction that prohibited enforcement of certain statutory provisions relating to the regulation of medical marijuana treatment centers, holding that Appellant had not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of any of its constitutional claims.The temporary injunction at issue was entered during a pending lawsuit filed by Appellant. The lawsuit included constitutional challenges to Fla. Stat. 381.986(8), claiming that two provisions were inconsistent with the recent medical marijuana amendment to Fla. Const. art. X, 29. Appellant also argued that three provisions of section 381.986(8) were special laws granting privileges to private corporations. The trial court agreed as to every argument and entered a temporary injunction. The First District partially upheld the injunction. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that Appellant did not have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of its challenges to section 381.986(8). View "Florida Department of Health v. Florigrown, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court summarily denying Appellant's third successive motion for postconviction relief, filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that the postconviction court properly denied relief.Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder, burglary with assault or battery, and retaliation against a witness. The trial judge sentenced Appellant to death after a second penalty phase. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences. In his third successive postconviction motion, Appellant alleged newly discovered evidence of both Brady violations and violations under Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972). The circuit court summarily denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, even if Appellant's claims were not procedurally barred, Appellant failed to demonstrate that the alleged newly discovered evidence would likely produce an acquittal on retrial. View "Bogle v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered into by Judge Richard Howard of the Fifth Judicial Circuit and the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) that Judge Howard should be publicly reprimanded because he acted in appropriately.Judge Howard attempted to dissuade a judicial candidate from running against an incumbent judge and attempted to persuade the candidate either to run against a different incumbent judge or to forgo the campaign altogether. The JQC concluded that Judge Howard's conduct violated Canon 7A(1)(b). Judge Howard conceded that his conduct was improper. The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered by the parties but declined to endorse the conclusion that judge Haward's conduct involved endorsing and opposing candidates for office in violation of Canon 7A(1)(b). View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Richard Howard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics