Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court's order denying Appellant's third successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that the postconviction court did not err in denying relief. Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual battery and was sentenced to death. Appellant filed his current challenge to his death sentence - his third successive under Rule 3.851 - after the governor signed his death warrant. The postconviction court denied his motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the postconviction court did not err in (1) summarily denying Appellant's newly discovered evidence claim; (2) denying Appellant's challenges to Florida's lethal injection protocol; (3) summarily denying Appellant's claim that adding his execution to the more than thirty years he has spent on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment; and (4) denying the remainder of Appellant's claims. View "Long v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Scott Israel's petition for writ of quo warranto challenging Governor Ron DeSantis's authority to suspend him from office in an executive order, holding that the Governor satisfied the constitutional requirements set forth in Fla. Const. art. IV, 7(a) and had the authority to suspend Israel from the office of Sheriff of Broward County. Following Israel's reelection, two mass shootings occurred during Israel's term in office, including the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On January 2, 2019, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order suspending Israel from office, alleging that certain actions by Israel constituted neglect of duty and incompetence. Israel filed a petition for writ of quo warranto asserting that Governor DeSantis exceeded his constitutional authority when suspending Israel. The circuit court dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the executive order suspending Israel alleged facts sufficient to support the suspension on the stated grounds. View "Israel v. DeSantis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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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 Defendant’s convictions of first-degree murder and six sentences of death, holding that no reversible error occurred in the proceedings below and that each of the death sentences was appropriate. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it declined Defendant’s request for self-representation; (2) there was no improper doubling of aggravators; (3) Defendant’s challenge to the constitutionality of the death penalty was procedurally barred; (4) Defendant’s guilty pleas were knowing, intelligent, and voluntary; and (5) each of Defendant’s death sentences was proportionate. View "Damas v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal expressly construing a provision of the Florida Constitution and upheld the validity of an ordinance proposing an amendment to the Orange County Charter with the exception of certain language discussed in this opinion, holding that the language was in direct conflict with Fla. Stat. 100.041. The proposed amendment provided for term limits and non-partisan elections for county constitutional officers. Three Orange County constitutional officers filed a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against the County challenging the county ordinance. The trial court upheld the portion of the charter amendment providing for term limits but struck down that portion providing for nonpartisan elections. The Fifth District affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below and upheld the validity of the ordinance upon the severance therefrom of offending language requiring the county constitutional officers to be elected during the primary election, holding that the offending language in the amendment for county constitutional officers to be elected on a nonpartisan basis may be stricken without rendering the remainder incomplete. View "Orange County, Florida v. Singh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the result reached by the First District Court of Appeal affirming the trial court’s rejection of Petitioners’ challenge to the State’s K-12 public education system based on the State’s alleged failure to comply with Fla. Const. art. IX, 1(a), holding that Coalition for Adequacy & Fairness in School Funding, Inc. v. Chiles (Coalition), 680 So. 2d 400 (Fla. 1996) defeated Petitioners’ claim. In their complaint, Petitioners sought a declaration that the State was breaching its duty to make adequate provision for an “efficient” and “high quality” system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education. Petitioners requested that the courts order the State to establish a remedial plan including studies to determine what resources are necessary to provide a high quality education to Florida students. The trial court rejected Petitioners’ challenge, and the court of appeal affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Petitioners failed to present any manageable standard by which to avoid judicial intrusion into the powers of the other branches of government, the court of appeal properly affirmed the trial court’s rejection of Petitioners’ blanket challenge to the adequacy of the funding of the entire K-12 education system. View "Citizens for Strong Schools, Inc. v. State Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court denying Appellant’s motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The jury recommended death by a vote of seven to five. Appellant’s death sentence became final in 1993. In his postconviction motion, Appellant sought relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying relief, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under Hurst. View "Thompson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding, among other things, that Appellant’s attorney was not ineffective for failing to investigate and present certain mitigation evidence. Appellant was convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder and sentence of death. In her motion for postconviction relief Appellant raised fourteen initial claims and then amended her motion to add a Hurst claim. The trial court denied the motion in its entirety. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that trial counsel’s performance was not deficient, the State did not commit a Giglio violation, and Appellant was not entitled to a new penalty phase under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). View "Allen v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal expressly declaring valid Fla. Stat. 775.082(10), holding that subsection (10) violates the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the decision on review, the Fifth District expressly declared subsection (10) valid in the context of rejecting Defendant’s argument that her state prison sentence violated the Sixth Amendment because the jury did not find that she presented a danger to the public under section 775.082(10). Section 775.082(1) requires that a qualifying offender whose sentencing scoresheet totals twenty-two points or fewer be sentenced to a nonstate prison sanction unless the trial court makes written findings that a nonstate prison sanction could present a danger to the public. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that subsection (10) violates the Sixth Amendment because it requires the court, not the jury, to find the fact of dangerousness to the public that is necessary to increase the statutory maximum nonstate prison sanction. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed certain portions of the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal holding that chapter 2000-439, section 18, Laws of Florida (the LMHS Lien Law) is invalid under the Florida Constitution, holding that the Second District should not have reached the question of whether the LMHS Lien Law violates the constitutional prohibition against the impairment of contracts under article I, section 10 because the issue was not properly before the court. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Second District correctly found that the LMHS Lien Law violates article III, section 11(a)(9) of the Florida Constitution as a special law pertaining to the “creation, enforcement, extension or impairment of liens based on private contracts”; (2) the Second District erred in addressing the contract-impairment issue because the Attorney General was not served with proper notice as to that issue under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.071; and (3) a discussion of statutory damages was unnecessary in light of the determination that the LMHS Lien Law cannot be enforced due to its unconstitutionality. View "Lee Memorial Health System v. Progressive Select Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law