[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
Oral Argument Press Summaries
February 7-11, 15, & 22, 2000

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, February 7, 2000
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
Barbara Moakley v. Sheri Smallwood

No. 95,471

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

9:00 After their divorce, Moakley and her husband became involved in a dispute over a note detailing a $310,000 loan they had made. The judge ordered the husband to hand over the note, but neither he nor his attorney said they could find it. Moakley then subpoenaed witnesses about the note, including one of her husband's attorneys, Smallwood. Smallwood persuaded the judge that the subpoena was served for no good reason and received $1,125 as compensation for time spent on the matter. Moakley appealed, but the Third District Court affirmed. Monroe County
State of Florida v. Gregory McFadden

No. 95,614

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

Approx. 9:40 McFadden was tried on charges of battering his wife. In questioning McFadden, the State introduced evidence he previously had pled guilty to battering his wife, though adjudication was withheld. On appeal the Third District Court reversed on grounds it was improper to introduce evidence of a prior offense if adjudication was withheld. Monroe County
Evelyn Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc.

No. 95,667 & 96,235

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

Approx. 10:30 Evelyn Owens (Orange County) was injured after slipping on remnants of a discolored banana in a Publix Supermarket. Elvia Soriano (Palm Beach County) was injured in an incident involving another discolored banana in a B&B Cash Grocery Store. In Owens' case, the Fifth District Court (en banc) affirmed a judgment against her on grounds that discoloration alone was insufficient to indicate that the banana had been on the floor long enough for Publix to have constructive knowledge of its presence. In Soriano's case, the Fourth District Court affirmed a judgment against her on grounds that more evidence than just discoloration was needed. Orange County

Palm Beach County

Ronald Knight v. State of Florida

No. 93,473

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

Approx. 11:10 Knight was arrested for the July 1993 murder of Richard Kunkel. He waived trial by jury and was found guilty. Also waiving his right to a jury in the penalty phase, Knight was sentenced to death. He appeals. Palm Beach County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, February 8, 2000
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
JUSTICE TEACHING INSTITUTE

TOWN HALL MEETING IN COURTROOM.

NO CASES SCHEDULED.

9:00 The Justice Teaching Institute Town Hall Meeting is a statewide electronic forum linking an educational program in the Supreme Court to teachers and schools via the Internet and by satellite. This year's topic, "drug testing in schools," is designed to teach the concepts of due process, equal protection, and privacy. The facilitator is Judge Joseph P. Farina of Miami-Dade County. Roundtable panel members will be Florida Chief Justice Major B. Harding, Justices Barbara J. Pariente and Peggy A. Quince, and the Governor's General Counsel Carol Licko. Group discussion leaders are Judge Peter D. Blanc of West Palm Beach, Judge Jerry L. Brewer of Orlando, Judge Nikki Ann Clark of Tallahassee, Judge Karen K. Cole of Jacksonville, and Judge Glenn L. Hess of Panama City. 

More information on the Town Hall Meeting is available at: http://www.flcourts.org/sct/education/townhall/

More information on the Institute is available at: http://www.flcourts.org/sct/education/jti.html

Leon County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, February 9, 2000
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
Tampa Electric Co. v. Joe Garcia

Nos. 95,444, 95,445, & 95,446

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

9:00 Duke Energy New Smyrna Beach Power Co. and the City of New Smyrna Beach petitioned the Public Service Commission to establish the need for building a 514-megawatt power generating facility along I-95 in Volusia County, to be run by Duke. A finding of need is critical in ultimately getting approval to build a new power plant in Florida. Other Florida power providers asked the PSC to dismiss the petition on a number of grounds. In March 1999 the PSC denied this request and issued a finding of need. Volusia County
Karen Irven v. Dept. of Health & Rehabilitative Services

No. 94,926

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

Approx. 9:40 Irven sued HRS on grounds it illegally fired her after she disclosed alleged misconduct by fellow workers in a child abuse case. At trial she won back pay and related damages. On appeal, the Second District reversed and instructed the trial court to enter judgment in favor of HRS. Irven appeals. Polk County
Troy Merck v. State of Florida

No. 91,581

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

Approx. 10:30 Merck was convicted and sentenced to death for the October 1991 murder of James Newton. Due to errors in his sentencing proceeding, his case was sent back for reconsideration before a jury. Based on a 12-to-0 recommendation, the trial judge again sentenced Merck to death in 1997. Merck appeals. Pinellas County
Ileana Whitt v. Ignacio Urbieta

No. 95,533

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

Approx. 11:10 Ilia Fotinov was killed and his wife Yordanka Fotinova seriously injured by a car exiting a service station owned by Urbieta as they walked on a sidewalk. The personal representative of Fotinov's estate and Fotinova sued in part on grounds that a dense growth of foliage on the service station property prevented drivers from seeing pedestrians. The trial court dismissed based on the common law concept that property owners should not be held liable for "purely natural" conditions existing on their property. The Third District affirmed on this issue. Dade County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, February 10, 2000
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
State of Florida v. Jocelyn Pierre

No. 95,222

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

9:45 After being stopped for a traffic infraction, Pierre was asked to leave his car and whether officers could search the vehicle. He agreed to the search but abruptly fled the scene. Police caught him and returned him. Searching the vehicle, they found illegal drugs. Pierre moved to suppress the evidence, but the trial court refused. On appeal the Second District Court held that fleeing the scene effectively withdrew consent to search, and it ordered the evidence suppressed. Hillsborough County
Farren Ivey v. Allstate Insurance Co.

No. 95,515

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

Approx. 9:25 On Dec. 13, 1994 while walking down the street, Ivey was struck by a vehicle driven by someone insured by Allstate. Ivey filed a timely claim with Allstate for $710 in medical expenses. Due to an error, Allstate declined to pay an additional $106.40 it actually owed, and Ivey sued. Allstate discovered the error during pretrial depositions and paid the additional amount. Ivey continued the suit seeking attorneys fees a costs. The trial court denied them, but the appellate division of the Circuit Court reversed. On appeal, the Third District Court ordered the trial court's judgment reinstated. Dade County
Henry Perry Sireci v. State of Florida

No. 95,116

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

Approx. 10:05 Sireci was indicted for the 1975 murder of used-car lot owner Howard Poteet. After trial, he was convicted and sentenced to death. His case was sent back for resentencing due to errors, and in 1990 he again was sentenced to death. The sentence was upheld on appeal. He now challenges its validity. Orange County
J.B. v. Florida Dept. of Children & Family Services

No. 95,890

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

Approx. 11:45 J.B.'s parental rights over his four children were terminated after he failed to appear at an initial status hearing to say whether he consented to the termination.  At the termination proceeding itself, however, he appeared, objected to the termination, and asked for an attorney.  The trial judge denied his request and terminated his rights.  On appeal, J.B. argued that the notice for the status hearing was insufficient and violated his due process rights.  The First District Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, allowing J.B., with the assistance of counsel, to attempt to set aside the termination.  The trial court denied his requests and entered a second termination order.  On appeal,. the District Court concluded that the twenty-four hours's notice was sufficient to meet minimum due process requirements, and affirmed the trial court's ruling. Leon County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, February 11, 2000
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
David Cook v. State of Florida

No. 94,134

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

8:30 Cook was sentenced to death for the August 1984 murder of Onelia Betancourt and to life in prison for the murder of Rolando Betancourt. His sentence was upheld on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his death sentence. Dade County
Curtis W. Beasley v. State of Florida

No. 93,310

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

Approx. 9:10 Beasley was tried and convicted of the August 1995 murder of Carolyn Monfort, whose daughter found her dead on the floor of her mother's laundry room in Dundee, Fla. The jury recommended death 10-to-2, and the trial judge imposed the death penalty. This is Beasley's direct appeal. Polk County
State of Florida v. Will Perkins

No. 95,741

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

Approx. 10:10 While driving, Perkins was stopped for no lawful reason. The officer "ran" his license to determine if it was valid and found it was suspended. Perkins was charged and, at trial, moved to suppress all evidence against him on grounds his identity was learned only as the result of an unlawful stop. The trial judge declined, but the Fourth District Court reversed. Palm Beach County
Michael George Bruno, Sr. v. State of Florida

No. 92,223

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

REMOVED FROM CALENDAR Broward County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, February 15, 2000
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
State of Florida v. Osceola County (on rehearing)

No. 94,135

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

9:00 Osceola County plans to issue $35 million in bonds to pay for a convention center to be located in a World Expo Center that will include developments by private hotel,entertainment, and retail companies. The State objected on grounds the bond issue had defects and may not be authorized by law. The trial court rejected this argument. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed but has allowed rehearing. Osceola County
Terry Melvin Sims v. State of Florida

#00-295#00-297

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

9:40 Sims was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the December 1977 murder of George Pfeil, an off-duty deputy sheriff who had entered a pharmacy while it was being robbed by Sims and three other men. He challenged his pending execution, currently scheduled for 7:00 a.m., Feb. 23. The trial court refused his requests, and he appeals. Simultaneously he has filed a petition for habeas corpus, also challenging his death sentence. Seminole County
NOTE: Arguments in the pending death warrant against Anthony Braden Bryan
may be scheduled for this day when and if petitions are filed in his case.
SATELLITE BROADCASTS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THIS DAY
SATELLITE REBROADCAST WILL BE THE FOLLOWING DAY STARTING AT 1:00 P.M. (ET)
 
 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, February 22, 2000
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 H. Provenzano v. State of Florida

#99-32

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

9:00 Provenzano, an inmate under an active death warrant, was convicted and sentenced to death for the January 1984 courthouse murder of Orange County Circuit Court bailiff William Arnold Wilkerson. He also was convicted of attempting to murder bailiffs Harry J. Dalton and Mark L. Parker. His attorneys allege he is incompetent to be executed due to insanity. The trial court rejected this claim, and he appeals.  Orlando



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