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Oral Argument Schedule & Briefs

October 8-12, 2007

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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 8, 2007

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

Thomas J. Morgan v. State of Florida

SC06-2350

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

9:00

Mr. Morgan was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault with a weapon and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He later argued that his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel by advising him to reject a plea agreement offered by the state and predicting Mr. Morgan would be acquitted at trial or, at most, convicted of a lesser charge. The trial court denied the claim without a hearing. The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld that decision but also certified a conflict with the Third District Court of Appeal. In a similar but unrelated case, the 3rd DCA had ruled that the trial court had to hold a hearing before it could rule on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Broward County

The Florida Bar v. Kristine Valentine-Miller

SC06-1629

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

Approx. 9:40

The Florida Bar alleges Ms. Valentine-Miller harmed her clients by abandoning them and stealing at least $31,000 of their funds in her trust account. Ms. Valentine-Miller, who was placed on emergency suspension by this Court, eventually admitted all the allegations. The judge assigned to hear the case as a referee recommended that this Court suspend her for at least three years and then indefinitely until she proves rehabilitation from substance abuse and has made full restitution to her clients. The Bar argues that the appropriate penalty is disbarment. Ms. Valentine-Miller argues that the referee appropriately took into account mitigating factors, such as her personal and medical problems.

 

James Franklin Rose v. State of Florida

SC06-473

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

Approx. 10:10

Mr. Rose was convicted of the kidnapping and first-degree murder of 8-year-old Lisa Berry, who was fatally beaten in October 1976. He was sentenced to death but this Court later vacated that sentence and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing. He was sentenced to death again. This Court upheld that sentence on direct appeal and Mr. Rose filed a post-conviction claim in trial court. Although the trial court denied that claim, this Court later overturned that denial and vacated the second death sentence, ordering a third sentencing hearing. The jury voted 9-3 to recommend a death sentence and Mr. Rose was condemned a third time. This Court upheld the third death sentence on direct appeal. Mr. Rose filed a post-conviction claim in trial court. It was denied and this appeal followed.

Broward County

Richard v. Rhodes v. State of Florida

SC04-31

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

Approx. 10:50

Mr. Rhodes was convicted of the first-degree murder of Karen Nieradka, whose body was found in 1984. He was sentenced to death but on direct appeal, this Court vacated the sentence. After a second sentencing hearing, the jury voted 10-2 to recommend a death sentence and he was condemned a second time. This Court upheld that sentence on direct appeal and Mr. Rhodes filed a post-conviction claim in trial court. It was denied and this appeal followed.

Pinellas County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

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

Dr. Gregory Strand v. Escambia County

SC06-1894

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

9:00

In this case, Escambia County has asked the Court to rehear and clarify its recent opinion dealing with bonds that utilize "tax increment financing." In that ruling, the Court concluded that the state constitution requires voter approval for such bonds. The Court later issued a revised opinion that emphasized the scope of its decision.

Escambia County

Abraham Yisreal v. State of Florida

SC06-2211

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

Approx. 9:40

Mr. Yisrael was convicted of trafficking in cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The trial court found him to be a habitual violent felony offender and sentenced him to life in prison on the trafficking charge and 30 years on the firearm charge. Mr. Yisrael argued the state had offered nothing more than hearsay evidence to prove his record. The trial court denied his motion. The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court but certified conflict with a decision by the First District Court of Appeal.

Broward County

Zamir Garzon v. State of Florida

SC06-2235 | SC06-2290

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

Approx. 10:30

Mr. Garzon and Mr. Balthazar were charged with criminal conspiracy, armed burglary, robbery, kidnaping, and extortion. At their trial, the judge used "and/or" between their names before giving the jury instructions. Mr. Garzon was convicted of all charges except for extortion; Mr. Balthazar was convicted of all charges. On appeal, they argued that the use of the "and/or" was a fundamental error. The Fourth District Court of Appeal concluded that if there was an error it was harmless but also certified conflict with rulings by other courts on unrelated but similar cases.

Broward County

Pinkney Carter v. State of Florida

SC06-156

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

Approx. 11:10

Mr. Carter was convicted of the first-degree murders of Glenn Pafford, Elizabeth Smith Reed and Courtney Nicole Smith, all of whom were fatally shot during a burglary in July 2002. The jury voted 9-3 to recommend a death sentence for the murder of Mr. Pafford and 8-4 to recommend a death sentence for the murder of Ms. Smith Reed. It recommended a life sentence for the murder of Ms. Smith. The judge followed those recommendations and sentenced Mr. Carter to death for the first two murders and to life in prison for the third. This is Mr. Carter's direct appeal of the two death sentences. He raises several issues.

Duval County

Jermaine Lebron v. State of Florida

SC06-138

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

Approx. 12:10

Mr. Lebron was convicted of the first-degree murder of Larry Neal Oliver, who was fatally shot during an armed robbery in late 1995. Mr. Lebron was sentenced to death but this Court vacated the sentence on direct appeal and ordered a new sentencing hearing. Mr. Lebron's second death sentence was also vacated by this Court on direct appeal and the case was remanded again for a new sentencing hearing. The jury voted 7-5 to recommend a death sentence and Mr. Lebron was condemned a third time. This appeal followed; Mr. Lebron raises several issues.

Osceola County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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

Harold A. Blake v. State of Florida

SC05-1302

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

9:00

Mr. Blake was convicted of the first-degree murder of Maheshkumar Patel, who was fatally shot in August 2002 during a convenience store robbery. The jury voted unanimously to recommend a death sentence and Mr. Blake was condemned. This is his direct appeal.

Polk County

Michel Rivera v. State of Florida

SC05-1873

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

Approx. 10:00

Mr. Rivera was convicted of the first-degree murder of 11-year-old Staci Jazvac, who was abducted in January 1986. The jury voted unanimously to recommend a death sentence and Mr. Rivera was condemned. This Court upheld the sentence on direct appeal and Mr. Rivera filed a post-conviction claim in the trial court. It was denied and he appealed to this Court, which upheld the trial court on some points but sent the case back to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing on one issue. After the hearing, the trial court denied relief and, on appeal, this Court also denied relief. A second post-conviction claim by Mr. Rivera was also denied in circuit court. This appeal of that denial followed.

Broward County

Donald Dean Kasischke v. State of Florida

SC07-128

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

Approx. 10:40

Mr. Kasischke was sentenced to jail time followed by community control and then probation after he pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious assault on a child and lewd and lascivious exhibition on a child under 16 years. When he was on community control, the state alleged he violated the mandatory conditions of community control by possessing pornography. The trial court sentenced him to five years in prison followed again by community control and probation. Mr. Kasischke appealed to the Third District Court of Appeal, which ultimately upheld the trial court.

Miami-Dade County

 

 


Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Thursday, October 11, 2007

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

Ian Deco Lightbourne v. State of Florida

SC06-2391

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

9:00

Mr. Lightbourne is sentenced to death for the first-degree murder of Nancy O'Farrell, who was fatally shot in 1981. In this appeal, Mr. Lightbourne argues that Florida's last execution was botched, citing the 34 minutes it took for the execution of Angel Diaz to be carried out. Mr. Lightbourne argues the state's execution method and procedures constitute cruel and unusual punishment. A trial judge held a hearing and denied Mr. Lightbourne's claims. This appeal followed.

Statewide impact

Mark Dean Schwab v. State of Florida

SC07-1603

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

Approx. 9:40

Mr. Schwab was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, sexual battery of a child and kidnaping after murdering 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez in April 1991. Mr. Schwab was sentenced to death. This Court upheld the sentence on direct appeal. The circuit court denied Mr. Schwab's post-conviction appeal. This Court upheld that denial and Mr. Schwab also lost his federal appeals. Mr. Schwab has been scheduled for execution on Nov. 15. The circuit court denied Mr. Schwab's latest post-conviction claim, which was filed after his death warrant was signed, and this appeal followed.

Brevard County

 

 


Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Friday, October 12, 2007

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

No cases scheduled