[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]

Oral Argument Press Summaries
October 5-9, 1998

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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[ETCHING: SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
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Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Monday, October 5, 1998

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
Dwayne Hawkins v. Ford Motor Co.

No. 92,503

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C, D, E 

9:00 In 1994, Millard G. Ripley and Dwayne Hawkins negotiated with the owners of Wilson Davis Ford, Inc., in Plant City, to buy their Ford dealership. Ford Motor Co. objected to the transfer and refused to approve it. As a result, the deal fell through. Ripley and Hawkins then sued Ford in federal court on grounds that Ford had violated Florida statutes restricting the ability of auto manufacturers to interfere in the sale of dealerships. After their suit was dismissed, they appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, which certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court about the interpretation of the statute. Plant City
State of Florida v. Jason Edward Thompson

No. 92,435

Parties did not supply briefs in electronic format 

Approx. 9:40 Thompson was 16 at the time of his arrest for DUI manslaughter. He later pled guilty based on a plea bargain capping incarceration at 12 years, though he still could ask the judge for a lower sentence. When the judge imposed the full 12 years, Thompson appealed. The Fourth District found that Thompson had not preserved any errors for appeal, in part due to his guilty plea, but certified the case to the Florida Supreme Court. Indian River County
Manuel Antonio Rodriguez v. State of Florida

No. 90,153

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C, D, E 

Approx. 10:30 In December 1984 the bodies of Sam and Bea Joseph and Genevieve Abraham were found in the Josephs' apartment. The murders remained unsolved until 1993 when investigators received information linking Rodriguez and another man to the triple murder. Detectives contacted the other man, and he implicated himself and Rodriguez in the murders. Rodriguez gave conflicting accounts, but maintained he only stood lookout while others committed the murder.  At trial, Rodriguez was found guilty and the jury recommended the death penalty 12-to-0. This is his direct appeal. Dade County
Ian Deco Lightbourne v. State of Florida

No. 89,526

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C 

Approx. 11:30 Lightbourne was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Nancy A. O'Farrell in January 1981. He challenged the validity of his death sentence in 1985 and again in 1994, being denied relief both times. He now challenges his sentence again. Marion County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, October 6, 1998

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: Deborah Ford-Kaus

No. 91,232

View briefs in Acrobat format A 

9:00 Ford-Kaus is charged with several counts of misconduct. These include mishandling a client's case while she was running for judicial election, false billing, backdating court documents, and lying to the Judicial Qualifications Commission when it investigated these allegations. The JQC asks the Court to remove her from office. Sarasota
Philippe H. Moransais v. Paul S. Heatherman

No. 92,199

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B 

Approx. 9:40 In June 1993 Moransais entered a contract to buy a home in Lakeland from Heatherman. The contract provided for building inspection before closing, performed by two engineers working for Bromwell & Carrier, Inc. Moransais later discovered undisclosed defects that allegedly rendered the home uninhabitable. He sued all the parties, including the two engineers for professional malpractice. The trial court dismissed these malpractice claims, and the Second District Court affirmed. It reasoned that professional malpractice was chiefly meant to address injuries to person or property, and that contractual remedies (in this case, against Bromwell) were the more appropriate way to recover a purely economic loss. The Second District acknowledged a contrary ruling by the Fifth District, and certified the case to the Supreme Court. Lakeland
James Russo v. Wesley Akers

No. 91,943

View briefs in Acrobat format A -- Download all briefs in one ZIP file 

Approx. 10:30 Akers was found guilty of assault and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He later filed a postconviction proceeding alleging that his trial counsel was not competent. The trial court appointed Public Defender James Russo, who appealed to the Fifth District on grounds he had no duty to represent inmates already convicted of a crime. The district court denied relief, and Russo appeals. Seminole County
Victor Marcus Farr v. State of Florida

No. 91,682

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C, D 

Approx. 11:10 Farr was arrested for the December 1990 murder of Shirley Bryant. At trial he said he wanted to be executed, pled guilty, and waived his right to a penalty phase before a jury. The judge imposed the death penalty but, on appeal, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing so the trial court could properly weigh mitigating evidence. At this new proceeding, Farr himself took the stand and refuted his own case, again asking to be executed. He since has attempted to waive all postconviction rights, though occasionally indicating he needed more time to think about his case. After a hearing, the trial court deemed the waiver valid. The Capital Collateral Representative now argues that Farr was incompetent to waive his rights.  Lake City

Columbia County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, October 7, 1998

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: Leonard V. Wood

No. 93,455

No briefs.  

9:00 Judge Wood has been summoned to appear before the Court to be publicly reprimanded for judicial misconduct. Only three judges, including Wood, have been called before the Court for public reprimand since 1989. Seminole County
LeRoy H. Merkle, Jr. v. Carrie Hargis Robinson

No. 91,967

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B

Approx. 9:05 On May 12, 1977, Shirley Hargis gave birth to a daughter in West Virginia who suffered from perinatal asphyxia, hypoxia, and a seizure disorder. She said she did not suspect these problems were caused by medical negligence until February 1994. In October 1994, she sued the estate of her attending physician, who had died while in retirement in Florida. The trial court ruled that a seven-year statute of limitation barred the suit. The Second District Court reversed but certified the case for Supreme Court review. Pinellas County
H&F Land, Inc. v. Panama City-Bay County Airport

No. 92,299

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C 

Approx. 9:45 H&F is the owner of a piece of land completely cut off from the mainland by property owned by the Panama City-Bay County Airport & Industrial District. The land lost its access to the mainland as a result of a 1940 land transaction in which the original owner conveyed 390 acres to the District but retained a portion on a peninsula. Fifty-six years later, H&F sued for a right of way to the mainland. The trial court dismissed the suit based on a 1963 Florida statute that extinguishes "stale" claims against land. The First District affirmed but certified the case to the Supreme Court. Panama City
W.T.J. v. E.W.R

No. 92,161

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C 

This is the Case of the Month.

Approx. 10:40 While Ann Joyner was pregnant, her husband was arrested for kidnaping and raping another woman. He later was sentenced as an habitual sex offender based on earlier offenses, of which Joyner was unaware. She later divorced him, remarried, and filed a petition to terminate his parental rights over their daughter. The trial court agreed, noting that termination was in the best interests of the child and that the father effectively had abandoned her. The First District reversed but certified the case to the Supreme Court. Leon County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, October 8, 1998

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
Amendments to Rules of Judicial Administration: Court Reporters

No. 92,300

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C 

9:00 The Legislature passed a statute authorizing the Supreme Court to establish minimum standards for the certification, discipline, and training of judicial court reporters. The Court appointed a committee to develop a new rule of procedure governing court reporters, and the committee has now submitted its proposal. Arguments will be heard from those favoring and opposing the rule or its elements. Statewide impact
Shands Teaching Hospital v. Janet Louise Warren

No. 91,718

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C 

Approx. 9:40 In February 1994, Janet Warren filed suit against Shands for medical malpractice. Under court rules, a copy of the complaint had to be served on Shands within 120 days of filing. Here, it was served on the 121st day. The trial court ultimately dismissed the suit because of the violation, but the First District reversed so the trial court could consider certain standards that might excuse the late service. In its appeal, Shands argues that the standards used by the First District are incorrect. Alachua County
Jerry Griffis v. State of Florida

No. 92,160

View briefs in Acrobat format A, B, C 

Approx. 10:30 Griffis fled authorities during his 1990 trial for child molestation. After trial in absentia, he was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy term. He was captured and returned to custody in 1996, and the trial court adjudicated him guilty. Griffis appealed, and the state moved to dismiss, citing a 1991 Florida Supreme Court case holding that the right to appeal can be waived by fleeing. The First District disagreed, citing a 1993 case by the U.S. Supreme Court that suggested a contrary conclusion. However, the First District certified a question asking the Florida Supreme Court which case should control. Alachua County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, October 9, 1998

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 ARGUMENTS SCHEDULED

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