[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
Oral Argument Press Summaries
December 5-7 & 10, 2001

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
Wednesday, December 5, 2001
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
John Calvin Taylor II v. State of Florida

SC96,959

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

9:00 Taylor was charged with the December 1997 murder of Shannon Holzer. At trial he was convicted and the jury later recommended the death penalty 10-to-2. The trial judge sentenced him to die. This is his direct appeal. Clay County
State of Florida v. Kellen Lee Betz

SC01-319

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

Approx. 10:00 A law enforcement officer stopped Betz for a traffic violation. After the stop, he noticed that the odor of marijuana was coming from Betz' vehicle. Later the officer, despite Betz' objection, searched the trunk of the vehicle and found more contraband. The trial court overruled Betz' motion to suppress evidence seized from the vehicle, but the Second District Court of Appeal later ruled that the evidence from the trunk was unlawfully seized. The State appeals. Pinellas County
State of Florida v. Lawrence Francis Lewis

SC96,890

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

Approx. 10:40 Lewis was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the May 1987 murder of a man named Gordon. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. Later Lewis challenged the validity of his sentence, and the trial court agreed with his arguments. The State appeals. Broward County
Gary Lawrence v. State of Florida

SC00-2290 and SC01-674

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

Approx. 11:20 Lawrence was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the July 1994 murder of Michael Dean Finkin. His sentence was affirmed on appeal. He now challenges its validity. Santa Rosa County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, December 6, 2001
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
Panda Energy International, Inc. v. E. Leon Jacobs, Jr.

SC01-284

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

9:00 This case involves a challenge to a certification of need for a power generating facility. Leon County
Thomas Anthony Wyatt v. State of Florida

SC00-1828

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Approx. 9:40 Wyatt was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murders of Frances and William Edwards, Michael Bornoosh, and Cathy Nydegger during a May 1988 spree that included several robberies and car thefts. His convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal. This case involves whether his counsel in postconviction proceedings must disclose the basis of a claimed conflict of interest where doing so allegedly would violate the attorney client privilege. Indian River County
Lee County Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. E. Leon Jacobs, Jr.

SC01-373

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

Approx. 10:30 The Cooperative appeals the decision of the PSC dismissing, on jurisdictional grounds its complaint about the wholesale rate structure imposed by Seminole Electric Cooperative, from whom the Cooperative purchases power. Leon County
Kelly Tormey v. Michael Moore

SC97,143

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

Approx. 11:10 Tormey was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for second-degree murder, armed robbery, and possession of contraband. This case involves her challenge to the way the Department of Correction has calculated her gain time. Dade County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, December 7, 2001
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: Joseph P. Baker

SC00-2510

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

8:30 Judge Baker is charged with violations of judicial ethics, for which the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission has recommended a written admonishment. Orange County
Peter Johnson v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co.

SC01-91and SC01-321

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

Approx. 9:10 These cases involve disputes under homeowner's insurance policies. In both, the home owners contended that damage to their homes' structures were caused by events covered by the policy, whereas the insurers said they were not. The issue in these cases is whether appraisers brought in to determine the amount of loss can consider whether the loss is covered by the policy, or whether causation must be determined later by a court. Pasco County

Dade County

Sears Authorized Termite & Pest Control, Inc. v. Shelley J. Sullivan

SC01-960

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

Approx. 9:50 Sullivan and Sears signed a pest control agreement in 1995 that included coverage for spiders. Later Sullivan was bitten by brown recluse spiders on her property and sued Sears as a result. The trial court ordered the parties into arbitration under a clause in the agreement, but the Fourth District Court reversed. Palm Beach County
Alterra Health Care Corp. v. Estate of Frances Shelley

SC01-709

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

Approx. 10:30 Before her death, Shelley lived in a Tallahassee assisted-living facility operated by Alterra. In August 1999 she allegedly caught her leg in the footboard of her bed but was not found for another eight hours. Shelley's estate later sued for negligence, wrongful death, and other claims. Her estate asked the judge to compel disclosure of information in personnel files of Alterra employees, but Alterra argued that these files contained information that in part were private under the Florida Constitution. The trial court ordered the documents disclosed, and on appeal the First District Court affirmed. Leon County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Monday, December 10, 2001
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
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General: Right to Treatment & Rehabilitation for Nonviolent Drug Offenses

SC01-1950

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9:00 A citizen's initiative to amend the state Constitution is being circulated that would give persons charged with certain drug-related offenses the right to treatment rather than prosecution. The case is before the Court to determine whether it contains only a single subject and has a fair ballot summary, as required by law. Statewide impact
Charles B. Higgins v. State Farm Fire & Casualty

SC01-291and SC01-292

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

Approx. 9:40 Higgins was sued by Cheryl Ingalls as a result of injuries she allegedly sustained during an argument between Higgins and his wife Maureen. In the subsequent lawsuit Higgins' insurer, State Farm, filed for a declaratory judgment on grounds that it was not obligated to cover his intentional wrongful acts. The trial court ordered a separate trial on State Farm's obligations before the trial on Ingall's lawsuit. Higgins and Ingalls contended this was improper, but on appeal the Fourth District agreed with the trial judge. Palm Beach County
Charles W. Finney v. State of Florida

SC00-1351and SC01-356

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

Approx. 10:30 Finney was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the January 1991 murder of Sandra Sutherland. His sentence was affirmed on appeal. He now challenges its validity. Hillsborough County
Ana Maria Cardona v. State of Florida

SC00-1366and SC01-1056

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

Approx. 11:10 Cardona was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the October 1990 murder of her 3-year-old son Lazaro Figueroa. Her sentence was affirmed on appeal. She now challenges its validity. Dade County



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