[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]

Oral Argument Press Summaries
November 30-December 4 & 18, 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, November 30, 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

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, December 1, 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
Ronald Schultz v. Love PGI Partners, LP

No. 92,803

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9:00 Schultz, the Citrus County Property Appraiser, denied agricultural tax exemptions for portions of property owned by Love PGI Partners and Sugarmill Woods, Inc. The appraiser contended that the land in question was being used for forestry by natural regeneration and cattle grazing, which he said were not bona fide agricultural uses. When the landowners sued, the trial court upheld the denial of exemptions. On appeal, the Fifth District Court reversed, and Schultz appeals.  Citrus County
Etirza Eversley v. State of Florida

No. 92,624

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Approx. 9:40 On Feb. 5, 1996, Etirza Eversley took her infant son Isaiah to a nearby clinic, where a nurse saw he was having trouble breathing. The nurse suspected pneumonia, but the clinic lacked equipment to verify this. The nurse summoned a doctor, and both told Eversley to take Isaiah to a hospital emergency room immediately. She did, but there was a line, so she decided to leave instead. Eversley went to sleep with Isaiah and later awoke to find Isaiah was not breathing. She summoned help, but when paramedics arrived the baby's body was cold, apparently dead for some time. Eversley was tried and convicted of manslaughter and felony child abuse, but the trial judge reduced the conviction to misdemeanor child abuse. The Second District Court reversed and reinstated the felony convictions, and Eversley appeals. Hillsborough County
Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. John DeSalvo

No. 92,467

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Approx. 10:30 DeSalvo sued Scottsdale Insurance Co. over a disagreement on the amount owed under an insurance policy covering a building that had burned. Scottsdale paid a lower amount than DeSalvo requested, but later offered to settle any further claims for $100,001. DeSalvo proceeded to trial and won an award less than this offer, $84,133.92. A "prevailing party's" attorney's fee and other costs usually would be paid in cases like this, but there is an exception if the recovery at trial is less than an amount offered in settlement. The trial court found that the case fell within the exception, but the First District reversed. It said the offer of $100,001 expressly included attorney's fees and costs. Thus, it held that the trial court needed to determine total fees and costs and subtract them from the $100,001 to determine who actually prevailed. Duval County
Meryl McDonald v. State of Florida

No. 87,059

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Approx. 11:10 Dr. Louis Davidson was killed at Thunder Bay Apartments in January 1994. Five people were charged, including the victim's estranged wife Denise Davidson and Meryl McDonald. McDonald was found guilty and the jury recommended the death penalty 9-to-3, which the judge imposed. Denise Davidson, meanwhile, was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. McDonald appeals. Pinellas County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, December 2, 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
Metropolitan Dade County v. Chase Federal Housing Corp.

No. 92,536

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9:00 In 1991, drycleaning solvent contamination was found in private drinking water wells of residential areas near shopping centers in Suniland that had housed drycleaners. Contamination in these areas was not reasonably recoverable, and Miami-Dade County had to install drinking water mains at great expense, completed by 1993. On Dec. 4, 1994, the County sued shopping-center owners to recover its outlays. Owners contended they were retroactively immune from suit because they had joined a cleanup program under Florida's Drycleaning Contamination Cleanup Act, effective July 1, 1994. The trial court and Third District Court agreed but certified the case to the Supreme Court. Dade County
Roderick Terrell Perriman v. State of Florida

No. 92,927

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Approx. 9:40 On May 22, 1996, Perriman and a friend were driving to a basketball game when police stopped the friend's car for a tag violation. Police found a gun in the car and also determined that Perriman was a convicted felon. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon. No fingerprints were found on the weapon, and both men testified that Perriman had no knowledge the gun was in the car. At trial, the jury posed a question to the judge during deliberations: Was it a crime if the felon did not know the gun was in the car? The judge did not answer the question, but told jurors to refer to their written instructions. They convicted Perriman, and the Third District Court affirmed but certified the case to the Supreme Court. Dade County
Robert Ira Peede v. State of Florida

No. 90,002

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Approx. 10:30 In March 1983, Peede traveled from North Carolina to Miami to see his estranged wife Darla Peede. Fearful of Peede, Darla gave her daughter detailed information to give police if she turned up missing. The daughter did so, and police arrested Peede in North Carolina. Darla's body was found near Camden, Georgia, and Peede confessed to stabbing her to death near Orlando. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. On appeal, his sentence was affirmed. He challenges the validity of the sentence. Orange County

(Miami connection)

Clarence Jones v. State of Florida

No. 90,976

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Approx. 11:10 On July 7, 1988, Tallahassee Police Officer Ernest Ponce de Leon was shot and killed while trying to apprehend escapees from a Maryland prison, including Jones. At trial, Jones was tried and convicted. The jury recommended the death penalty 11-to-1, which the judge imposed. His sentence was affirmed on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Leon County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, December 3, 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
Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Deward Ballard

No. 92,963

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9:00 Ballard, a non-Florida resident, sued Owens-Corning on grounds he had been exposed to an asbestos product the latter sold. Exposure allegedly occurred in six separate states, though not in Florida. Owen-Corning asked the judge to dismiss the case on grounds it should be brought in another state. The judge declined, and at trial Ballard was awarded $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $31 million in punitive damages. On appeal, the Fourth District Court agreed the trial was properly held in Florida and affirmed the award, but certified the case to the Supreme Court on the issue of punitive damages. Palm Beach County
United Services Automobile Ass'n v. Dale E. Jennings, Jr.

No. 92,776

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Approx. 9:40 Jennings was injured in a head-on collision with a car driven by the son of Bobby Broxton, who was insured by USAA. Jennings and USAA attempted to settle, but a dispute arose over a related claim filed by the hospital that treated Jennings. Settlement failed at this time, and Jennings sued. The parties later partially settled the case, with Jennings retaining the right to sue the insurer for alleged bad-faith refusal to pay his claim. At Jennings' request, the judge ordered USAA to let his attorney inspect the company's claims file on the case. USAA appealed on this single issue before the case could go to trial, and the First District Court affirmed but certified the case to the Supreme Court. Duval County
Oscar Ray Bolin, Jr. v. State of Florida

No. 89,385

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Approx. 10:30 The body of Teri Lynn Matthews was found in the Kent Groves area by a passerby. The investigation turned up little until July 1990, when Bolin's ex-wife gave police information linking her former husband to the crime. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death based partly on testimony of the ex-wife. The Supreme Court in 1995 found that this violated the privilege afforded communications by spouses and ordered a new trial. Bolin again was convicted and sentenced to death. He appeals. Pasco County
Execu-Tech Business Systems v. New Oji Paper Co.

No. 92,881

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Approx. 11:30 The Japanese company New Oji and several other manufacturers were investigated for price fixing in sales of jumbo rolls of facsimile paper from 1990 to 1992. Oji later pled guilty to the charges. In 1996, several Florida purchasers of facsimile paper filed a class action suit to recover damages caused by price fixing. New Oji asked the judge to dismiss on grounds that, as a Japanese company, it was not subject to the jurisdiction of Florida courts. The judge did so, and the Fourth District Court agreed but certified the case to the Supreme Court. Broward County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, December 4, 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
The Florida Bar v. Jose Carlos Canal

No. 90,564

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8:30 In 1996, The Florida Bar began investigated Canal for violating rules governing attorney trust accounts from 1989 and 1992. Charges include check kiting and improperly maintaining the accounts. A referee recommended disbarment and payment of costs totaling more than $8,000. Canal contends he was distraught during the period of time in question because a newborn child died, he was diagnosed with AIDS shortly thereafter, and he was ill with opportunistic infections. He asks for a 3-year suspension from practicing. Dade County
Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative v. Julia L. Johnson

No. 92,479

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Approx. 9:00 Gulf Power Co. and Gulf Coast Electric have been involved in a lengthy dispute over who will provide power service in 27 disputed areas of Bay and Washington Counties. Both companies supply power to customers in these areas. Gulf Power asked the Public Service Commission to intervene. The PSC determined that it would not be worthwhile to force one or the other company to dismantle its infrastructure in these areas, and that future boundary disputes would be decided case-by-case. Gulf Coast Electric appeals. Bay County

Washington County

(Pensacola connection)

James E. Stephens, Jr. v. State of Florida

No. 92,639

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Approx. 9:40 Stephens was charged with battery of a law officer and resisting arrest following a scuffle with police. He contended he was the victim of police brutality because of a large bruise found on his leg. A friend took photographs of the bruise two days later, but at trial mistakenly said he took the photographs the same day. Defense counsel did not correct the error, and later a state expert testified that the bruise was at least a day old. After Stephens was convicted, the trial court court ordered a new trial on grounds defense counsel was ineffective. The Second District Court reversed, and Stephens appeals. Pinellas County
John Wesley Henderson v. State of Florida

No. 92,885

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Approx. 10:20 Henderson is facing trial and the death penalty in the murder of Lawrence Pinkard in April 1996. His attorney avoided engaging in "discovery" (asking for information in the State's possession). Doing so would obligate him to give the State an equal chance to obtain information from the defense. The attorney later filed a public records request for sheriff's files on the murder case. The trial court held that public records laws cannot be used to circumvent discovery obligations, and the First District Court agreed and certified the case to the Supreme Court. Bay County
William M. White v. State of Florida

No. 88,686

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Approx. 11:10 White, a member of the motorcycle gang the Outlaws, was tried and convicted in 1978 for the murder of Gracie Mae Crawford. The trial court sentenced him to death, and the sentence was affirmed on appeal. White now challenges the validity of his sentence. Orange County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, December 18, 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
Ceremonial Session: Retirement of Justice Gerald Kogan 2 p.m. Justice Gerald Kogan has served on the Supreme Court of Florida since his appointment by Gov. Bob Martinez, effective Jan. 30, 1987. He is the appointee from the territorial limits of the Third District Court of Appeal, encompassing Dade and Monroe Counties. His retirement takes effect Dec. 31, 1998. Shortly afterward, Justice Kogan will become President of the Alliance for Ethical Government in Miami-Dade County.  Tallahassee

(Dade County connection)

Biography: Justice Gerald Kogan

As Chief Justice from June 1, 1996, through June 30, 1998, Gerald Kogan was the author of Florida's pioneering "Access Initiative," a comprehensive program already world-renowned as a model for improving citizen access to the judiciary. The Initiative was awarded one of only three Louis M. Brown awards given nationally in 1998 by the American Bar Association's Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. The Brown Award recognizes programs that improve access to legal services for persons who earn too much money to qualify for free legal assistance yet too little to afford an attorney. In March 1998 The Florida Bar's Media Law Committee, consisting of the state's media lawyers and top journalists, gave Kogan its "Draw Near" award for his public access programs. In June 1998, the Florida First Amendment Foundation gave Kogan its annual "Friend of the First Amendment Award," also for his access programs.

During Kogan's tenure as Chief Justice, the Court also has created many programs relying on high technology to improve access. The Court's Internet site--the first judicial page on the World-Wide Web--is internationally recognized as a model and has won many awards. In 1997 Florida was one of only two court systems invited onto the faculty of the International Court Technology to demonstrate its use of Web-based technology. In 1997 the Florida Supreme Court achieved yet another "first" when it became the first court in the world to "netcast" live audio and video of court arguments on the Internet. Simultaneously the Court also began making this same live video feed available throughout North America via satellite. Satellite broadcasts especially have been used by the news media and in educational program in Florida's schools. The Court has encouraged teachers to use live or tape-recorded video of court arguments by developing and distributing a curriculum for a "Case of the Month" about six times a year. Educational programs were further supported in 1997 when the Court created the first Justice Teaching Institute, which awards 25 secondary school teachers fellowships to attend an intensive program on law-related education at the Court Building. The second JTI was held in February 1998, and already is being used as a model for similar programs in other states. The third JTI will be held in February 1999.

Justice Kogan was born in New York City on May 23, 1933. He moved with his parents and brother to Miami Beach in 1947. He graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School and attended the University of Miami, where he received the bachelor's degree in business administration and the juris doctor degree. While at the University of Miami, he served as president of the Student Senate and was listed in Who's Who in American Colleges & Universities. He served as chief of the University's highest honor society, Iron Arrow and in 1955 received an Ibis citation, which is given annually to the outstanding student at the University. He also won the National Intercollegiate Debate Championship and is a Charter Member of the Southern Debate Hall of Fame.

In law school he won the Southern Law School Moot Court Championship and became a National Moot Court Finalist. Upon graduation from law school, Justice Kogan entered the United States Army, graduated from the Army Intelligence School, and served on active duty as a special agent in the Counterintelligence Corps. Upon his discharge in 1957, he entered the private practice of law in Miami. In 1960 he was appointed an assistant state attorney in the Dade County State Attorney's Office and rose to the rank of chief prosecutor of the Homicide & Capital Crimes Division. In 1967 he left the State Attorney's Office to resume the practice of law, specializing in criminal trial and appellate law. He served on the Criminal Courts Committee of the Dade County Bar Association, grievance committees, and The Florida Bar Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. He served as a prosecutor and referee on behalf of The Florida Bar in disciplinary proceedings.

Justice Kogan was special counsel to the Florida Legislature's Select Committee on Organized Crime & Law Enforcement. In 1980 he was appointed a circuit judge in Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit. In 1984 he was appointed administrative judge in the Criminal Division, serving in that capacity until his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court in 1987. He and his wife Irene were married in 1955, and they have three children (Robert, Debra, and Karen) and five grandchildren (Jeremy, Nolan, Adam, Jacob, and Samuel).
 
 

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