[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
Oral Argument Press Summaries
October 2-6, 2000

The following summaries are drawn from briefs and lower court judgments. They are meant to provide a general idea of facts and issues presented in cases, and should not be considered official court documents. Facts and issues presented in these summaries should be checked for accuracy against records and briefs, available from the Court, which provide more specific information.

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Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Monday, October 2, 2000
Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.
Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
Inquiry Concerning a Judge: Reginald A. Richardson

#93,954

View briefs in Acrobat format by clicking the case number(s) here

9:00 Judge Richardson has been ordered to appear before the Court to receive a public reprimand for ethical misconduct. Dade County
Jean Nadd v. Le Credit Lyonnais, S.A.

#96,917

View briefs in Acrobat format by clicking the case number(s) here 

Approx. 9:10 Le Credit Lyonnais holds two French judgments against Nadd entered in 1978 and 1979, before Nadd moved from Paris to Pensacola and then Orlando. The company sought to enforce these judgments by filing them in the Orange County trial court in October 1995. Nadd moved to dismiss on grounds that the judgments should have been filed in Florida within five years of entry. The trial judge agreed, but the Fifth District Court reversed on grounds that the actual time limit was twenty years.  Orange County

(Pensacola connection)

Clarence Jones v. Michael Moore

#00-660

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Approx. 9:50 Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the July 7, 1988, murder of Tallahassee Police Officer Ernest Ponce de Leon. His conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Leon County
Brian Jones v. ETS of New Orleans, Inc.

#96,287

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Approx. 10:30 Jones was injured while on the job and as a result, he received workers compensation benefits. Jones later sued the third party allegedly at fault in his injury and they reached a settlement of $50,000. ETS, the workers' compensation insurance carrier, filed a workers' compensation lien, as provided by Florida law. The trial court entered an order and ETS appealed. The Second District Court of Appeal held that only Jones' taxable costs, rather than all of the costs he incurred, would be included for equitable distribution purposes.  Hillsborough County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, October 3, 2000
Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
Florida Dept. of Health & Rehabilitative Services v. S.A.P.

#00-105

View briefs in Acrobat format by clicking the case number(s) here 

9:00 S.A.P. was born in 1975 and removed from her abusive mother in 1978. HRS placed her with a foster home in Jacksonville. In 1979 Clay County Sheriff's officers found her in Orange Park, which was not the location of her supposed foster home. S.A.P. had been severely beaten and burned and, though four years old, weighed only 22 pounds. She sued in 1995, alleging that her HRS case worker falsified records to suggest that her placement was being properly monitored. The trial court dismissed the suit on grounds it was filed outside the 7-year statute of repose. On appeal, the First District Court reversed. Duval County
Major League Baseball v. Frank L. Morsani

#96,004

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Approx. 9:40 This dispute arose from failed attempts to bring the Minnesota Twins baseball team to the Tampa Bay area. Morsani and others were involved in the matter but contend that their efforts to secure the team failed by 1984. Major League Baseball contends that Morsani and the others actively frustrated the deal. In 1992, Major League Baseball sued Morsani and the others, who moved to dismiss on grounds that the 4-year statute of limitations had expired. Major League Baseball argued that the statute did not apply because Morsani and the others had continued to promise to help bring an existing major league team or an expansion team to Tampa Bay, thereby inducing it not to sue. The trial court dismissed the claim but, on appeal, the Second District Court reversed. Hillsborough County
Manuel Adriano Valle v. State of Florida

#94,754

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Approx. 10:30 Valle was tried and sentenced to death for the April 1978 murder of Coral Gables Police Officer Louis Pena. His sentence was upheld on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Dade County
Jermaine Lebron v. State of Florida

#93,955

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Approx. 11:10 Lebron was charged with the murder of Larry Neal Oliver, whose body was found in a rural area of Osceola County on Dec. 1, 1995. At Lebron's first trial in 1997, the judge declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. He was tried again in 1998, convicted, and sentenced to death based on a 7-to-5 vote of the jury. He appeals. Osceola County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
The Florida Bar Re: Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.

#97,130

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9:00 The law firm of Becker & Poliakoff requires certain attorney-employees to sign contracts requiring them to split fees with the firm if the employees leave and take firm clients with them. The firm contends that this contract was approved by The Florida Bar before it went into use and is supported by court decisions. In 1995, The Bar issued an ethics opinion declaring the fee-sharing agreement unethical and unenforceable. The firm has petitioned the Court to reverse this opinion. Palm Beach County
Diosdado Diaz v. Rina Cohan Diaz

#95,534

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Approx. 9:40 After lengthy divorce proceedings, the trial court ordered Mr. Diaz and his attorney to pay a portion of Mrs. Diaz's attorneys fees and costs based on the judge's conclusion that they had litigated in bad faith. On appeal, the Third District Court affirmed. Dade County
John Erroll Ferguson v. State of Florida

#96,658

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Approx. 10:30 Ferguson was convicted and sentenced to death for eight murders committed in 1978, two in Hialeah (Brian Glenfeld and Belinda Worley) and six in the Carol City home of Livingston Stocker. His sentences were upheld on appeal. Ferguson now challenges the validity of his sentences, among other reasons, on grounds that he is schizophrenic. Dade County

Carol City

Hialeah

Donny L. Crook v. State of Florida

#94,782

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Approx. 11:10 Crook was tried and convicted for the March 14, 1996, murder of Betty Spurlock at the Bull Pen bar in Avon Park. The jury recommended the death penalty by a vote of 7-to-5, which the judge imposed. This is Crook's direct appeal. Highlands County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, October 5, 2000
Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
Jeffrey Lee Atwater v. State of Florida

#94,865 & #99-179

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9:00 Atwater was tried and sentenced to death for the Aug. 11, 1989, murder of Ken Smith in St. Petersburg's John Knox Apartments. His sentence was upheld on appeal. He now challenges its validity. Pinellas County
Coastal Development of North Florida, Inc. v. City of Jacksonville Beach

#95,686

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Approx. 9:40 Coastal Development filed for a small-scale amendment to the City's comprehensive plan for development of an office complex at Highway A1A and St. Augustine Boulevard. The proposed amendment was opposed by adjoining residential property owners, and the local Planning Commission eventually denied the request on a 3-to-2 vote. The City Council backed the Commission. Coastal Development sued, and the trial court ordered the City to grant the amendment. On appeal, the First District Court reversed on grounds that the trial court had used the wrong standard of review. Duval County
Seburt Nelson Connor v. State of Florida

#93,697

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Approx. 10:30 Connor was tried and convicted for the November 1992 murders of Lawrence and Jessica Goodine. The jury recommended the death penalty by a vote of 8-to-4 in the murder of Jessica, and the judge imposed it. This is Connor's direct appeal. Dade County
Johnny Wilmer Clark v. State of Florida

#00-43

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Approx. 11:30 Clark was tried and convicted for aggravated battery by using his truck to strike a truck driven by another man. Neither was injured, though the victim's truck was damaged. On appeal, the First District Court affirmed on grounds that a motor vehicle can legally be an extension of a person's body. Thus, it ruled, the jury should decide whether an attack upon a truck was an aggravated battery on the person of its driver. Escambia County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, October 6, 2000
Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
City of Winter Springs v. State of Florida

#00-413

View briefs in Acrobat format by clicking the case number(s) here 

8:30 The City created the Tuscawilla Lighting and Beautification tax district to raise revenues for improvements to an existing neighborhood. Proceeds would be used to finance bond issues that would pay for improvements including landscaping, lighting, and signage. The City sued to validate the bonds, but the trial court ruled that they were legally invalid. Seminole County
State of Florida v. Charles Hogan

#96,588

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Approx. 9:10 Hogan was charged with two counts of burglary of a dwelling after he was found living in an unoccupied residence owned by someone else. At trial, Hogan testified that someone he had met at a chapel, Ted Hanson, gave him permission to stay in the house. But he did not know where Hanson was. The prosecution argued that Hanson was a figment of Hogan's imagination. Hogan was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison. On appeal, the Fourth District Court reversed on grounds that the prosecutor's comments may have led the jury to believe that Hogan had the burden of proving his own innocence. Broward County
James Franklin Rose v. State of Florida

#94,317

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Approx. 9:50 Rose was charged with the October 1976 murder of Lisa Berry. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, but this sentence ultimately was overturned due to errors. In the present proceedings, the jury recommended death on a vote of 9-to-3, and the trial court reimposed the death penalty. This is Rose's direct appeal. Broward County
Robert B. Waterhouse v. State of Florida

#95,103

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Approx. 10:30 Waterhouse was convicted and sentenced to death for the January 1980 murder of Deborah Kammerer. A new sentencing hearing later was ordered due to errors at the original trial. The jury recommended death 12-to-0, and the trial court again imposed the death penalty. This sentence was upheld on appeal. Waterhouse now challenges the validity of his sentence. Pinellas County



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