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The Supreme Court affirmed the findings and recommendation of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) concerning misconduct by Judge Ernest Kollra of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and a stipulation entered into by Judge Kollra and the JQC, approved the parties' stipulation, and commanded Judge Kollra to appear before the Court for the administration of a public reprimand. The parties entered into a stipulation that Judge Kollra improperly introduced partisan political activity into his campaign for judicial office, that Judge Kollra's conduct violated two canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and that the appropriate discipline was a public reprimand. The Supreme Court concluded that the JQC's findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence and approved the stipulation, holding that the appropriate discipline in this case was a public reprimand. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Ernest A. Kollra" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court granted Respondents' joint motion to recall mandate, withdrew its opinion dated January 4, 2019, and substituted this opinion in its place, holding that the Fifth District Court of Appeal properly affirmed a trial court judgment invalidating an Orange County ordinance because home-rule counties may not enact ordinances on subjects preempted to the State and inconsistent with general law. In 2014, the Orange County Board of Commissioners enacted an ordinance proposing an amendment to the Orange County Charter and provided for a ballot question be presented for approval regarding a charter amendment providing for term limits and non-partisan elections for county constitutional officers. The ballot question appeared on the November 4, 2014 ballot and was approved by the majority of Orange County voters. After the underlying county ordinance and ballot title and summary were challenged, the trial court upheld the portion of the charter amendment providing for term limits but struck down that portion providing for nonpartisan elections, concluding that Orange County was prohibited from regulating nonpartisan elections for county constitutional officers because that subject matter was preempted to the Legislature. The Fifth District affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Florida Election Code expressly preempted the Orange County ordinance. View "Orange County v. Singh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed a circuit court judgment denying validation of revenue bonds, holding that Halifax Hospital Medical Center, a special tax district, was not authorized to carry out the project for which it sought to issue the bonds. Halifax sought validation of bonds that it intended to issue for the purpose of financing the construction of a hospital outside the geographic boundaries established in the special act creating Halifax. The circuit court denied the complaint for bond validation on the grounds that Halifax lacked the authority operate a facility outside its geographical boundaries. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly denied the bond validation because neither Halifax's enabling act nor the Interlocal Act gave Halifax the authority to operate outside its geographic boundaries. View "Halifax Hospital Medical Center v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law, Tax Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for a writ of quo warranto, which Petitioner filed after the Governor suspended her as Superintendent of Schools for Okaloosa County, holding that the Governor did not exceed his suspension authority. In an executive order, Governor Ron DeSantis invoked his authority under Fla. Const. art. IV, 7(a) to suspend Petitioner. In her petition for writ of quo warranto, Petitioner asserted that the misconduct alleged in the executive order was limited to conduct that occurred "exclusively" in Petitioner's prior term in office, and therefore, the Governor exceeded his suspension power. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the executive order alleged misconduct occurring in Petitioner's current term and satisfied the standard set forth in State ex rel. Hardie v. Coleman, 155 So. 129, 133 (Fla. 1933). View "Jackson v. DeSantis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the stipulation entered into between Judge Dennis Daniel Bailey and the Judicial Qualifications Commission that stipulated that Judge Bailey violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and should be publicly reprimanded and commanded Judge Bailey to appear before the Court for the administration of a public reprimand. Based on the judge's conduct in a certain trial, the commission charged Judge Bailey with violating canons 1, 2A, 3B(1), 3B(4), and 3B(7) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The commission found probable cause for the violations and recommended that Judge Bailey be publicly reprimanded. Judge Bailey stipulated that he did not contest the commission's findings and accepted the recommended discipline. The Supreme Court agreed with the commission's findings and Judge Bailey's admissions and ordered that Judge Bailey appear for the administration of a public reprimand. View "Inquiry Concerning a Judge Dennis Daniel Bailey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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After denying Plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandamus the Supreme Court sanctioned Plaintiff, holding that Plaintiff abused the judicial process and burdened the Court's limited judicial resources. Plaintiff was the defendant in two civil actions brought by Defendant, and motions for summary judgment against Plaintiff were granted in each case. Plaintiff subsequently filed six petitions or notices seeking relief related to the civil cases and filed more than one hundred pleadings in connection with each case. All six cases were either denied dismissed, or transferred. Based on Plaintiff's filing history, the Supreme Court issued an order directing him to show cause why he should not be prohibited from filing any further pro se documents in the Court related to two cases. The Court then held, based on Plaintiff's persistent history of filing pro se petitions that were frivolous, meritless, or otherwise inappropriate for the Court's review, the Clerk of the Court is instructed to reject any future filings submitted by Plaintiff related to the two civil cases unless such filings were signed by a member in good standing of the Florida Bar. View "Wetzel v. Travelers Companies, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the entry of a directed verdict in favor of Defendant in this medical malpractice action, holding that the Third District erred by equating the proximate cause of an injury with the primary cause of an injury. In granting a directed verdict for Defendant, an anesthesiologist, the trial court held that, even assuming that Defendant was negligent in his care of the decedent, he did nothing more than place her in a position to be injured by the independent actions of third parties, i.e., the surgeons in this case. The district court affirmed, holding that there was no competent, substantial evidence in the record that would lead to the conclusion that Defendant was the “primary cause” of the decedent’s death. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the district court’s decision was inconsistent with precedent regarding the proximate causation standard. View "Ruiz v. Tenet Hialeah Healthsystem, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s summary denial of Appellant’s successive motion requesting postconviction relief under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant’s claims were procedurally barred. Specifically, the Court held (1) Appellant’s claims were procedurally barred because the evidence at issue was not newly discovered because the record established that the information in Appellant’s claims could have been discovered at an earlier date through the exercise of due diligence; and (2) even if Appellant’s claims were not procedurally barred, his claims were without merit. View "Thomas v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court denying Appellant’s successive motion to vacate a judgment of conviction of first-degree murder under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant failed to show error in the denial of his successive postconviction motion. In his postconviction motion, Appellant alleged violations of Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), and Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), as well as a claim of newly discovered evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) Appellant’s Giglio claim and Brady claim were both without merit; and (2) Appellant’s newly discovered evidence claim was both procedurally barred and without merit. View "Merck v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this case involving the proper method of applying a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy deductible to a medical provider’s bill for hospital emergency services and care, the Supreme Court approved the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision, holding that the deductible should be subtracted from the total charges prior to application of the reimbursement limitation in Fla. Stat. 627.736(5)(a)1.b. While this case was pending in the Court, the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Care Wellness Center, LLC (Care Wellness), 240 So. 3d 22 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), holding that the deductible should be applied after charges are reduced under any fee schedule found in section 627.736. The Supreme Court approved the Fifth District’s decision in the instant case and disapproved the Fourth District’s decision in Care Wellness, holding that, under Fla. Stat. 627.739(2), the deductible should be applied to the total medical charges prior to reduction under the reimbursement limitation. View "Progressive Select Insurance Co. v. Florida Hospital Medical Center" on Justia Law