[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
Oral Argument Press Summaries
March 6-10, & 14, 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, March 6, 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
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General: Amendment to Bar Government from Treating People Differently Based on Race

No. 97,086, 97,087, 97,088, & 97,089

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

9:00 The Florida Civil Rights Initiative is gathering signatures to place on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment ending governmental affirmative action programs in Florida. This petition asks the Court to determine whether the proposed amendment meets minimum legal requirements. These requirements are that the ballot summary must fairly state the purpose of the amendment, and that the amendment itself must contain only a single subject. Statewide impact
GTC, Inc. v. Joe Garcia

No. 94,656

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

Approx. 9:40 GTC operates a small telephone exchange in Port St. Joe. After competition was introduced into long-distance calling in the 1980s, the state developed a system whereby long-distance providers would compensate smaller local exchanges for use of their lines. GTC received more than $1.2 million yearly from BellSouth under this arrangement. After the legislature changed the regulatory structure in 1995, BellSouth petitioned the Public Service Commission to end this payment. The PSC granted the request, and GTC appeals. Port St. Joe

Gulf County

KPMG Peat Marwick v. National Union Fire Ins. Co.

No. 96,413

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

Approx. 10:30 Under an insurance fidelity bond, National Union paid $18 million in losses sustained by its insured, Bank Atlantic. National Union then sued Bank Atlantic's accounting firm, KPMG Peat Marwick, alleging that the loss was a result of accounting malpractice. The trial judge dismissed the case on grounds that a claim for accounting malpractice cannot be raised by a third party due to the confidential nature of accountant-client communications. The Third District Court reversed and certified the issue to the Supreme Court. Dade County
Darnell L. Brown v. State of Florida

No. 95,844

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

Approx. 11:10 The victim in this case testified that Brown shot him as a result of "road rage" during a traffic dispute. The entire episode lasted less than a minute. Brown was convicted and sentenced for the crime of attempted second-degree murder. On appeal, the Fifth District Court rejected his claim that there is no crime of attempted second-degree murder in Florida but certified the issue to the Supreme Court. Orange County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, March 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
NO CASES SCHEDULED

LEGISLATURE CONVENES


 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, March 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
State of Florida v. Gwendolyn Fuchs

No. 96,766

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

9:00 Fuchs was charged with contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a child by leaving her three children, ages 11, 5, and 4, home alone. At trial, the county court held that the statute under which she was charged was unconstitutionally vague. The Fifth District Court affirmed. Osceola County
Florida Power Corp. v. William Webster

No. 95,122

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

Approx. 9:40 At about 5:15 a.m. on October 11, 1995, a vehicle driven by Webster collided with a train fully occupying a grade crossing owned by Florida Power. Weather conditions were drizzly at the time. Webster sued alleging that Florida Power negligently maintained warning signals. The trial court dismissed the suit under the "Standing Train Doctrine," which generally prohibits suits by persons who drive a vehicle into a train already fully occupying a crossing. The Fifth District Court reversed.  Citrus County
Glen Edward Rogers v. State of Florida

No. 91,384

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

Approx. 10:30 Rogers was charged with the November 5, 1995, murder of Tina Marie Cribbs. The jury found him guilty and recommended the death penalty, which the trial judge imposed. Rogers appeals. Hillsborough County
State of Florida v. Norris Williamson

No. 95,721

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

Approx. 11:30 Williamson allegedly entered a house and took a bottle of pills containing a controlled substance, codeine. He contended that he had no knowledge of the pills' nature. At trial he was found guilty of possessing a controlled substance illegally. On appeal, the Second District reversed on grounds the trial judge should have instructed the jury that Williamson could only be found guilty if he had knowledge of the illicit nature of the pills. Hillsborough County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, March 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
James C. Baber, III v. State of Florida 

No. 96,010

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

9:00 In November 1995, Baber was charged with DUI manslaughter and DUI personal injury after a car he was driving collided head-on with another vehicle, killing its driver. Also injured, Baber was taken to a hospital, which performed blood tests on him during treatment using a special instrument. Though the printout from that instrument could not be found, another hospital record indicated Baber's blood alcohol level was .232 or higher. The record was admitted into evidence at trial, and Baber was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years. He appealed in part on grounds the record should not have been used against him. The Fourth District Court affirmed.  Palm Beach County
Frankenmuth Mutual Ins. Co. v. Ernie Lee Magaha

No. 96,384

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

Approx. 9:40 Escambia County comptroller Joe Flowers entered into long-term lease agreements worth nearly $5 million with Unisys Corp. to obtain and finance computer equipment. Frankenmuth obtained the lease by assignment. On August 1, 1995, the Legislature abolished the comptroller's office after Flowers was indicted for illegal activity in office, including matters related to the leases. Afterward, Escambia County did not appropriate funds to make further payments under the agreements, and Frankenmuth sued the county and its clerk of court, Magaha, in federal court. The judge declared the bulk of the agreements valid and held that the county had effectively ratified them. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court certified questions to the Supreme Court about the legal issues at stake. Escambia County
Michael Griffin v. State of Florida

No. 93,906

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

Approx. 10:30 Griffin was charged with the October 1995 murders of Tom and Patricia McCallops at a warehouse owned by Service American Corp. He pled guilty to the offenses, waived his right to a penalty phase jury, and was sentenced to death. This is his direct appeal. Pinellas County
M.W. v. Arlonia Davis

No. 95,443

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

Approx. 11:30 M.W. is a 16-year-old boy in the custody of the state since age 6 due to allegations that his mother neglected him and his nine brothers and sisters. Upon the recommendation of a psychiatrist and a psychologist, a dependency judge approved the request of the Department of Children and Families to place M.W. in a secured, residential psychiatric treatment facility. M.W.'s attorney filed a writ of habeas corpus alleging that children cannot be put involuntarily into a treatment program unless the state first complies with the Baker Act, Florida's law governing involuntary civil commitment. The Fourth District denied relief but certified the issue to the Supreme Court.  Dade County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, March 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
NO CASES SCHEDULED

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, March 14, 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
Lloyd Chase Allen v. Robert A. Butterworth

#00-113#00-154#00-410

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

9:00 This case involves legal challenges to the Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000.

This case is scheduled for 2 hours.

Statewide impact
Amendment to Fla. Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851

No. 96,646

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

11:00 The Supreme Court Committee on Postconviction Relief in Capital Cases (the "Morris Committee") proposes amendments to Florida rules of procedure governing death-sentenced inmates.

This case is scheduled for 2 hours.

Statewide impact
In Re: Rules Governing Capital Postconviction Actions (on motion for clarification)

#00-242

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

1:00 This case involves temporary court rules applicable to cases involving death-sentenced inmates after enactment of the Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000. The State asks the Court to clarify its Feb. 7, 2000, order on this subject. Attorneys for death-sentenced inmates ask the Court to stay the Act in its entirety until constitutional challenges to it can be settled.

This case is scheduled for 20 minutes.

Statewide impact

THE CHIEF JUSTICE MAY TAKE BREAKS
THAT WILL CHANGE THE TIMING OF CASES ON MARCH 14



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