[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
Oral Argument Press Summaries
November 1-5, 1999

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, November 1, 1999
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
Grady Carter v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.

No. 94,797

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

9:00 Carter began smoking cigarettes in 1947 at age 16. After learning he had lung cancer in 1991, he sued the tobacco manufacturers and later won a jury verdict against them. On appeal, the First District Court reversed, and Carter appeals. Duval County
The Florida Bar v. Robert L. Travis, Jr.

Nos. 93,559

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

Approx. 9:40 Travis admitted to violations of ethics rules governing trust funds held for clients, including using the funds for personal purposes. The Bar referee recommended a 90-day suspension, but The Florida Bar asks the Court to disbar Travis. Gadsden County
The Florida Bar v. N. David Korones

No. 92,873 & 96,628

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

Approx. 10:10 Korones is charged with misappropriating funds from his uncle's estate while serving as executor. The referee recommended a 90-day suspension, but The Florida Bar asks the Court to disbar Korones. Pinellas County
Eugene F. Gaines v. Lynn Sayne

No. 95,134

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Approx. 10:40 Gaines sued his wife Chlodel for divorce in January 1996. The trial entered its order granting the divorce and dividing assets in October 1996, but both parties asked for rehearing. The trial court granted the wife's request. In February 1997 she died before the rehearing could be held. In September 1997, the trial court entered its final judgment. Gaines appealed and challenged the entire divorce proceeding on grounds the marriage had been terminated by death before a final divorce was entered. The Second District disagreed and ruled against him. Hillsborough County
Jason Demetrius Stephens v. State of Florida

No. 92,987

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Approx. 11:20 Stephens was tried and convicted for the murder of 3-year-old Robert Sparrow, Jr., who was kidnaped when Stephens robbed the victim's family. The trial judge imposed the death penalty based on the jury's 9-to-3 recommendation favoring it. Stephens appeals.  Duval County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, November 2, 1999
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
Mazzoni Farms Inc. v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.

Nos. 94,846 & 95,411

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

9:00 Mazzoni and other commercial growers of trees and shrubs allegedly were injured when the DuPont commercial product Benlate caused the mass destruction of their inventory. They sued and later reached a settlement, but later sued on grounds DuPont had concealed important information, making the settlement fraudulent. The federal trial judge dismissed the second suit, and the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals certified questions to the Florida Supreme Court during the later appeal. South Florida
Joaquin J. Martinez v. State of Florida

No. 90,952

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Approx. 9:40 Martinez, a citizen of Spain, was tried and convicted for the October 1995 murders of Douglas Lawson and Sherrie McCoy-Ward. The judge imposed the death penalty based on the jury's 9-to-3 vote in favor of it. Martinez appeals. Meanwhile, the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid, Spain's largest bar association, has filed a friend of the court brief alleging that Martinez' trial fell below internationally recognized standards of due process. Hillsborough County

Spanish connection

Jana P. Vest v. Travelers Insurance Co.

No. 93,355

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Approx. 10:40 Thomas Vest was killed in an auto accident involving an underinsured motorist, whose insurer tendered its policy limits to Jana Vest. She informed Mr. Vest's insurer, Travelers, of the offer and sought Travelers' authorization to accept the policy limits and demanded that Traveler pay under its own policy for damages over and above those covered by the other insurer. Ms. Vest sued when Traveler did not comply, but the trial court dismissed on grounds the suit was premature. The First District Court affirmed.  Escambia County
Duane Eugene Owen v. State of Florida

No. 92,144

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Approx. 11:20 Owen was convicted and sentenced to death for the May 1984 murder of Georgianna Worden in Boca Raton. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Palm Beach County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, November 3, 1999
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
Deneace M. Joshua v. City of Gainesville

No. 94,935

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

9:00 Under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, persons alleging unlawful discrimination by an employer must file a complaint with a commission that is required to making findings within 180 days. If it finds "reasonable cause" to believe discrimination occurred, the complaining party must file suit with one year of the finding. If the commission fails to make findings in 180 days, then "reasonable cause" is presumed to exist. Here, Joshua filed her complaint against her employer, the City of Gainesville, on July 21, 1995, but the commission failed to make any findings. She then sued the City on January 20, 1998, but the trial court dismissed it as time-barred. The First District Court affirmed. Alachua County
Nathaniel Woods v. State of Florida

No. 95,281

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Approx. 9:40 Florida adopted the Prison Releasee Reoffender Punishment Act in 1997 to allow for enhanced penalties for some released inmates who go on to commit more crimes. Woods was sentenced under the Act for armed robbery of a Food Lion and challenged the Act as unconstitutional. On appeal, the First District Court affirmed his conviction. Duval County
State of Florida v. Sammy Cotton

No. 94,996

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Approx. 10:30 Cotton was charged with robbery, resisting arrest without violence and soliciting for prostitution. After finding him guilty, the trial judge refused the State's request to sentence Cotton under the Prison Releasee Reoffender Punishment Act (see above). Tthe Second District affirmed, and the State appeals. Pinellas County
Dominick Occhicone v. State of Florida

No. 93,343

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Approx. 11:10 Occhicone was convicted and sentenced to death for the June 1986 murders of the parents of his former girlfriend Anita Gerrety. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Pasco County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, November 4, 1999
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
Stephen Todd Booker v. State of Florida

No. 93,422

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9:00 Booker was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the November 9, 1977, murder of 94-year-old Lorine Demoss Harmon in her Gainesville apartment. His sentence was affirmed on appeal. Later, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his sentence due to errors in jury instructions in the penalty phase. He again was sentenced to death and appeals. Alachua County
Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Karen Anderson

No. 95,337

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Approx. 9:40 On December 7, 1996,Anderson was severely injured on I-75 when a car in which she was a passenger swerved off the road trying to avoid a tractor-trailer rig pulling into the same lane. The owner of the rig held an insurance policy providing maximum coverage of $750,000 for each occurrence. Anderson sought $1.5 million based on her contention that the tractor and the trailer were each separately covered vehicles. The federal trial court found that the insurance policy language was ambiguous as to the amount of coverage under these circumstances and therefore determined that the $750,000 policy limit was available for each of the covered vehicles. The U.S. Eleventh Circuit certified questions to the Florida Supreme Court on Appeal. Marion County
Ralph Gross, Jr. v. State of Florida

No. 95,302

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Approx. 10:30 Gross and other men engaged in a series of "home invasion" robberies in which they appeared at people's homes dressed as law enforcement officers and took money while conducting "police searches." Gross was tried and convicted on racketeering charges in connection with these events, and the Fourth District Court affirmed. Broward County
Keshbro, Inc. v. City of Miami

Nos. 94,058

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Approx. 11:10 Keshbro and others are owners of the Stardust Motel in a high-crime area in the northeastern sector of the City of Miami. The City's Nuisance Abatement Board filed a complaint alleging that the motel was a public nuisance because it harbored crime and eventually ordered it closed for 175 days. The owners eventually filed for bankruptcy and sued the City for the "taking" of their property. The trial judge ruled for the owners, but the Third District reversed. Dade County

Pinellas County

City of St. Petersburg v. Joseph H. Kablinger

No. 95,600

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Approx. 12.10 The City of St. Petersburg Nuisance Abatement Board ordered the 1-year closure of rental property owned by Kablinger at 506 Grove Street North due to alleged drug sales on the premises. Kablinger sued the City for the "taking" of his property. The trial judge ruled in his favor, and the Second District Court affirmed. Pinellas County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, November 5, 1999
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
James Hitchcock v. State of Florida

No. 92,717

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

9:00 James Ernest Hitchcock was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1976 strangulation murder of his brother's 13-year-old stepdaughter. He appeals a resentencing and primarily argues that the trial court erred in allowing certain prosecution evidence and argument during his third resentencing proceeding. Orange County
State of Florida v. Jean David Paul

No. 95,265

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Approx. 9:40 While released on bond, Paul was arrested on other charges. At the State's request, the trial court revoked Paul's bond on the original charge and ordered him held without bond pending trial. Paul filed an emergency petition that the Fourth District Court granted, finding that the trial court did not have absolute discretion to deny bond unless the defendant meets criteria provided by statute. The District Court certified conflict with another Florida appeals court, and the Supreme Court accepted review to resolve the conflict. Broward County
James Roger Huff v. State of Florida

No. 91,913

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Approx. 10:30 Huff was convicted and sentenced to death for the April 1980 murders of his parents, Norman and Genevieve Huff. On appeal, his conviction and sentences were affirmed. Huff now challenges the validity of his sentence. Sumter County
David Miller v. State of Florida

No. 93,792

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Approx. 11:10 Miller was tried and convicted for the March 1997 murder of Albert Floyd, a street person who routinely slept under a covered doorway behind an Episcopal bookstore. The trial judge sentenced him to death based on a jury recommendation favoring it 7-to-5. He appeals. Duval County


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