[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]
Oral Argument Press Summaries
June 5-9, & 14, & 29, 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, June 5, 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
Ceremony Honoring Sam Madison & His Son

For Heroism Beyond the Call of Duty

9:00 The Court will honor one of its security officers, Sam Madison, Sr.--along with his son, Miami Dolphins Cornerback Sam Madison, Jr.--for heroism above and beyond the call of duty. On Sept. 13, 1998, Madison and his son witnessed a traffic accident near Miami's Pro Player Stadium that left Miami Metro-Dade Officer Rueben Jones critically injured. Sam Madison, Sr., stayed on the scene to provide CPR to Jones while Sam Madison, Jr., went to summon medical help. Their efforts prolonged Jones' life and helped apprehend the drunken driver who caused the accident. NOTE: Due to Sam Jr.'s practice schedule, we will not know if he can attend until the morning of this event. Miami

Tallahassee connection

Bennie Demps v. State of Florida

#00-1118

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

Approx. 9:05 Demps was convicted and sentenced to death in the stabbing murder of a fellow inmate, Alfred Sturgis, at Florida State Prison. On April 24, 2000, Gov. Jeb Bush signed a death warrant for Demps' execution. This is Demps' challenge to the warrant for his execution. Bradford County
Lamar Z. Brooks v. State of Florida

No. 94,308

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

Approx. 9:45 In April 1996 Rachel Carlson and her child Alexis Stuart were found dead in a car on Booker Street in Crestview. Brooks and Walker Davis, Jr., were arrested and tried separately for the offenses. The jury found Brooks guilty and recommended the death penalty, which the judge imposed. This is his direct appeal. Okaloosa County
Larry Eugene Mann v. State of Florida

No. 94,885

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

Approx. 10:45 Mann was convicted and sentenced to death for the November 1982 murder of Elisa Nelson. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Pinellas County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, June 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
Inquiry Concerning a Judge: John T. Luzzo

#00-197

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

9:00 Judge Luzzo has been summoned to appear before the Court to be publicly reprimanded for ethical misconduct. Broward County
Richard Blumberg v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co.

No. 95,740

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

Approx. 9:05 Blumberg obtained a large collection of sports cards in a business transaction. He stored them in a home he no longer lived in, and asked his insurance agent if an existing policy would cover the cards. His agent said it would. Later, most all the cards were stolen in a burglary. Blumberg eventually sued his insurer, but the trial judge determined that the policy did not cover the sports cards. Blumberg then sued his agent for misleading him into believing he had proper insurance. The trial judge dismissed the suit, and the Fourth District Court affirmed. Broward County
State of Florida v. James J. Norris, Jr.

No. 96,401

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

Approx. 9:45 The Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit Court issued an administrative order. It said that, when judges issue arrest warrants they should establish an amount of bond. Afterward, no other judge can change the amount without the first judge's permission. One judge issued a warrant for Norris' arrest and established bond at $20,000. Norris appeared before another judge who said reasonable bond should have been no more than $1,500 but could not be reduced to this amount due to the administrative order. Norris petitioned the Fifth District, which reversed and quashed the administrative order. Hernando County
Flo-Sun, Inc. v. Claude R. Kirk

Nos. 95,044 & 95,045

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

Approx. 10:30 Former Gov. Claude Kirk and others sued sugar growers and processors for maintaining a nuisance by causing environmental damage to the Everglades. The trial judge dismissed the suit on grounds that the issues should have been submitted first to state environmental officers in the executive branch. The Fourth District reversed. Palm Beach County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, June 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
Peter Ventura v. State of Florida

No. 93,839 & #00-583

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

9:00 Ventura was charged with the April 1981 murder-for-hire of Robert Clemente. He was convicted and sentenced to death on a vote of 11-to-1 by the jury. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. He now challenges the validity of his sentence. Volusia County
Eddie Lee Sexton v. State of Florida

No. 94,487

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

Approx. 9:40 Sexton was charged with the murder of Joel Good, whose body was found in a shallow grave in the Little Manatee State Park in January 1994. His conviction and death sentence were reversed in 1997 due to errors at trial. He again was sentenced to death in 1998 after retrial. This is his direct appeal. Hillsborough County
Ronald Keith Williams v. State of Florida

No. 89,668

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

Approx. 10:30 Williams was charged with the January 1993 murder of Lisa Dyke at an apartment in Wilton Manors. At trial he was found guilty, and the jury recommended the death penalty 11-to-1. The judge imposed it. This is William's direct appeal. Broward County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, June 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
In re: Amendments to Florida Family Rules of Procedure & Forms

#99-2

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

9:00 The Family Court Steering Committee proposes changes to the simplified family law forms now being used in Florida. Statewide impact
State of Florida v. Stanley V. Huggins

#99-27

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

Approx. 9:40 Huggins was charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. The State asked that his sentence be enhanced on grounds he was a former prisoner who fell within the scope of the Prison Releasee Reoffender Act. The trial judge declined to do so on grounds that burglary of an unoccupied dwelling did not fall under the Act. The Fourth District Court affirmed. Palm Beach County
Larry W. Mallard v. Charlene G. Mallard

No. 96,854

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

Approx. 10:30 During Larry and Charlene's marriage, they consistently put a large amount of money into savings with a goal of early retirement. He became a bank president while she reared children and worked as a part-time teacher. Their marriage ended after 27 years. They split their assets equally, and Larry was ordered to pay alimony of $4,250 a month plus an additional $3,125 that represented approximately half of the amount they had been putting into savings each month in the last years of their marriage. Larry contested the $3,125 on appeal, but the Second District Court affirmed it. Hillsborough County
Ben Wilson Bane v. Consuella Kathleen Bane

#99-93

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

Approx. 11:10 Consuella Bane entered into a settlement agreement with her husband Ben Bane during their divorce, which was incorporated in the final judgment. Later, she successfully sued to set the judgment aside on grounds her former husband had misrepresented the facts and coerced her into settling. The trial court also awarded her more than $245,000 in attorney's fees and costs incurred in setting aside the judgment. Ben Bane appealed, and the Second District agreed she was entitled to fees and costs but disagreed with the way the trial court determined them. Polk County

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, June 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
Karen D'Amario v. Ford Motor Co.

Nos. 95,881 & 96,139

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

9:00 In Pinellas County, Clifford Harris suffered extensive burns in a traffic accident allegedly caused while he was a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver. In Dade County, Maria Nash died, allegedly as a result of injuries caused by a collision with a vehicle driven by a drunk driver. In both instances, lawsuits were filed against automobile manufacturers alleging that injuries were enhanced by defects in the cars. In the Dade case, the Third District held that fault should not be apportioned between a drunk driver and the manufacturer of an uncrashworthy vehicle. In the Pinellas case, the Second District reinstated a jury verdict in favor of the vehicle manufacturer.  Pinellas County

Dade County

Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General: High Speed Rail

#00-542

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

Approx. 9:40 Floridians for 21st Century Travel Connections & Choices has started collecting signatures to place on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment. It would authorize a high speed monorail, fixed guideway, or magnetic levitation transportation system connecting Florida's five largest metropolitan areas. The Attorney General has petitioned the Court to determine whether the proposed amendment meets legal requirements to be put on the ballot. Statewide impact
Amendment to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851 (Collateral Relief After Death Sentence)

No. 96,646

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

Approx. 10:30 The Florida Supreme Court has asked for comment on proposed new rules of court to govern appellate procedures in cases involving death-sentenced inmates. This hearing will permit interested parties to make arguments about their views on the proposed rules. Statewide impact

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, June 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
Ceremonial Session Honoring Florida's First 150 Women Lawyers and First Five African-American Women Lawyers 10:00 As part of The Florida Bar's 50th Anniversary, the Court, The Florida Bar, and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers are holding this ceremonial session honoring the 101-year history of women practicing law in Florida. Some of Florida's pioneering women lawyers will be on hand as honorees. Speakers will include Florida Bar President Edith Osman, Florida Association for Women Lawyers President Jeanmarie Whalen, and American Bar Association President-Elect Martha Barnett. Keynote speaker will be Judge Rosemary Barkett of the federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Florida's first woman Chief Justice (1992-94).

NOTE: Speakers and honorees will be available for one-on-one interviews with the press at 9:00 a.m. in the Lawyer's Lounge of the Court. 

Statewide

FIRST 150 WOMEN LAWYERS CELEBRATION
CONTINUES AT THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

By Wendy S. Loquasto
Reprinted from The Florida Bar News

The Florida Bar and Florida Association for Women Lawyers are delighted that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hold a ceremonial session to pay tribute to Florida's First 150 Women Lawyers on Wednesday, June 14, at 10:00 a.m. If you were unable to attend the May 25 gala dinner banquet in Bal Harbour honoring the First 150 Women Lawyers, you have a second opportunity to be part of this great celebration at the Florida Supreme Court. The supreme court's ceremonial session recognizing these trail-blazing women in the legal profession is the greatest honor that could be bestowed upon them and the First 150 Women Lawyers Committee is very proud.

Chief Justice Major Harding will preside over the ceremony, at which the full court will be present. Others who have been invited to participate in the program include Martha Barnett, President-elect of the American Bar Association; Jeanmarie Whalen, President of FAWL; Edith Osman, Florida Bar President; and Wendy Loquasto, First 150 Research Committee Co-Chair. The Honorable Rosemary Barkett, Judge of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, who was Florida's first female supreme court justice, will give a keynote address appropriate to the inspirational theme, "Look to the Past, Look to the Future."

To assist the court in accommodating everyone who plans to attend, please call (850) 561-5600 extension 6627 by June 7 to indicate you will attend. Do not pass up this unique second opportunity to share in a great moment in Florida Bar and women's history!
 
 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, June 29, 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
Passing of the Gavel to the Honorable Charles T. Wells Noon Justice Major B. Harding will pass the Court's ceremonial gavel to Justice Charles T. Wells, who will become the 49th Chief Justice of Florida since statehood was granted in 1845. Justice Wells is a native of Orlando

Biography: Justice Charles T. Wells

Justice Wells assumed his duties as Justice of the Supreme Court on June 16, 1994, after being appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles. Justice Wells is a native Floridian, born in Orlando on March 4, 1939, the son of Julia Talley Wells and J.R. Wells. In 1957, he graduated from William R. Boone High School in Orlando and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 1961. At Florida, he was president of the Florida Blue Key leadership honorary. He was elected to the University of Florida Hall of Fame in 1961.

Upon receiving his juris doctor degree from the University of Florida in 1964, Justice Wells entered private practice with the law firm of Maguire, Voorhis, and Wells, P.A., in Orlando. He remained with that firm until 1969, at which time he served for one year as a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He returned to the firm in 1970 and remained there until 1976. He then formed the Orlando firm of Wells, Gattis, Hallowes, and Carpenter, P.A., where Justice Wells practiced law until his appointment to the Supreme Court.

During his twenty-eight years in private practice, he was a certified mediator of the Florida Circuit Court and United States District Court, and was certified by The Florida Bar Certification Program as a Civil Trial Attorney. While residing in Orlando, he actively participated in the Orange County Bar Association, serving as its president from 1989 through 1990. He was also actively involved in the Orange County Legal Aid Society from 1968 until 1994. From 1985 through 1994, Justice Wells participated in the Guardian Ad Litem Program, representing dependent and abused children in juvenile and domestic court proceedings. He was elected to The Florida Bar Board of Governors in 1990 and served in that capacity until 1994.

Justice Wells serves as the Supreme Court liaison or committee member to the Florida Courts Technology Commission, of which he is chair; the Article V Funding Steering Committee; and the Trial Court Performance and Accountability Committee. He also serves on the faculty and as a lecturer for the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies and the Circuit Judges Education Conference.

His religious and civic activities include membership in Trinity United Methodist Church, Tallahassee. Justice Wells also served in the United States Army.

Justice Wells and his wife Linda Fischer Wells, who is an attorney and former partner in the law firm of Carlton Fields, P.A., moved to Tallahassee from Orlando upon his appointment to the Supreme Court. They have three children, Charles Talley Wells, Jr., a lawyer in Orlando; Shelley Wells Collins, a medical doctor in Miami; and Ashley Dawn Wells, a law student at Northwestern University.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Internet (see below).



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