[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]

Oral Argument Press Summaries
April 5-9, 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, April 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
Michael Jon DiPietro v. David Griefer

No. 93,038

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9:00 On Nov. 17, 1988, 35-year-old Laurel Griefer emerged from a bridal shop on Los Olas Blvd. carrying a garment bag. It contained the wedding dress for her marriage 5 months later. Because it was long, she held the dress above her head so it would not drag on the ground, thus impairing her vision on one side. At the same time, Michael Jon DiPietro was driving to work along Los Olas for the first night on his new job as host of a "Murder Mystery Cruise." Griefer, a former Tallahassee broadcast journalist and legislative aide, stepped in front of DiPietro's car and suffered severe head injuries. When she emerged from a coma, her IQ had dropped from 130 to 77, she became legally incompetent, and her engagement ended. The jury awarded her guardians $207,500, and the Fourth District reversed. Broward County

(Tallahassee connection)

Roger V. Barth v. Victor M. Khubani

No. 92,697

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Approx. 9:40 This suit arose over an attempt to purchase Glenn Turner's 60-acre estate near Orlando, which included a house called "The Castle." The federal government planned to seize and sell the property for Turner's unpaid income taxes. Turner also owed his attorney, Barth, money he could not pay. Turner offered to transfer the Castle property to Khubani. In exchange, Khubani would get the property at a reduced price, pay off tax liens, pay Barth $300,000, and realize a profit of $2 million. Ultimately, the federal government sold the property at auction to a third party. Barth sued when Khubani refused to pay the $300,000 fee but lost. The Third District reversed in part. Dade County

(Orlando connection)

Michael L. Robinson v. State of Florida

No. 91,317

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Approx. 10:30 In June 1994 Jane Silvia, Robinson's girlfriend was killed by hammer blows to the head. Robinson later confessed to the murder. On trial, Robinson pled guilty, waived his right to a penalty phase before a jury, and refused to permit evidence on his own behalf. The judge sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court reversed on grounds the judge should have considered Robinson's history of psychiatric and health problems Robinson again was sentenced to death, and he appeals. Orange County
Akeem Muhammad v. State of Florida

No. 90,030

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Approx. 11:10 The victim, Jimmy Lee Swanson, made money washing cars outside Ivory's store. In June 1995 he was approached there and shot dead by a man later identified as Muhammad. The jury recommended the death penalty 10-to-2, and the judged sentenced him to die. This is his appeal.  Broward County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, April 6, 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
Gary Lee Thorp v. State of Florida

No. 91,663

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9:00 Thorp was tried and convicted for the June 1993 strangulation murder of Sharon Chase in Bean Park in Melbourne. The jury recommended the death penalty 10-to-2, and the trial court imposed it. Thorp appeals. Brevard County

Melbourne

Guillermo Arbelaez v. State of Florida

No. 89,375

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Approx. 10:00 Arbelaez was tried and sentenced to death for the February 1988 murder of 5-year-old Julio Rivas, the son of his former girlfriend. He allegedly was mad at the boy's mother for breaking up with him, took the boy while she was not looking, and threw him off the Rickenbacker Causeway bridge into water 70 feet deep. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Dade County
State of Florida v. Dieter Riechmann

Nos. 89,564 & 93,236

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Approx. 10:40 Riechmann was tried and sentenced to death for the October 1987 murder of his companion Kersten Kischnick at Miami Beach. He allegedly lived off her earnings as a prostitute and killed her for insurance money when she became ill. He later challenged the validity of his sentence, and the trial court agreed that he must be resentenced due to errors in the penalty phase of his trial. The State appeals. Dade County

Miami Beach 

Allen Lee Davis v. State of Florida

No. 93,816

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Approx. 11:20 Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the May 1982 murders of Nancy Weiler and her two daughters at the Weiler home in Duval County. He now asks for a new hearing in the trial court to investigate new evidence. He contends that key evidence in the case against him came from FBI analyst Donald Havekost who since has been linked to alleged contamination of evidence in the FBI laboratories. Duval County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, April 7, 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
City of Clearwater v. Judi Acker

Nos. 93,800, 93,983, & 93,984

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9:00 This case involves workers of the City of Clearwater who suffered disabling injuries on the job. Each received pensions that were subject to reduction if the former employee received other benefits like Social Security. The First District Court certified a question asking how the reduction should be figured. Clearwater

Pinellas County

(statewide impact)

Hiroaki Kobayashi v. Hollis M. Kobayashi

No. 92,811

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Approx. 9:40 Hollis and Hiroaki Kobayashi were married in Japan in 1981. Hollis lives and works in Dade County, and her husband Hiroaki works mainly in Japan. She filed for divorce in 1996 and was granted a substantial award of money and property after her husband failed to respond to the divorce petition. Later, Hiroaki was held in contempt and ordered to jail for failure to pay $138,560 to his former wife. He contends he does not have the money to pay. When he tried to appeal the order, the Third District Court declined to accept the case. He now asks the Supreme Court to order the District Court to take the case.  Dade County
State of Florida v. George Sowell

No. 92,514

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Approx. 10:30 In 1982 Sowell suffered kidney failure that he believed was induced by glaucoma drugs. He had a kidney transplant that required him to take antirejection drugs that render him nauseous. He found that marijuana helped control his glaucoma and nausea. Sowell tried but failed to obtain marijuana through legal means, so he began growing his own. He later was tried and convicted for possession. On appeal, the First District reversed on grounds that Sowell could use "medical necessity" as a valid defense against the drug charges.  Washington County

(statewide impact)

State of Florida v. O.C., a child

No. 94,513

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Approx. 11:10 Florida law allows greater penalties for crimes committed by members of street gangs. One of O.C. friends allegedly became mad at another boy for "messing" with his girlfriend. Gang members including O.C. allegedly decided to teach the boy a lesson by attacking his brother. The brother was beaten and his head was smashed through a fence. In juvenile court, O.C. was found guilty and sentenced as a street gang member. On appeal the Fifth District held the law unconstitutional.  Orange County

(statewide impact)

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, April 8, 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
NO CASES SCHEDULED

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, April 9, 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
NO CASES SCHEDULED


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