August 2019 Summaries

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August 27, 2019

SC18-1554 In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration-Parental Leave

Statewide - starts at 9:00 a.m.

This Court requested the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee submit a parental-leave continuance rule for consideration.  The Committee submitted Draft Rule of Judicial Administration 2.570 (Parental Leave Continuance), which addresses motions for continuances based on the lead attorney’s parental leave. The Committee recommends against the adoption of a parental-leave continuance rule because it believes such a rule would reduce judicial discretion to manage cases adequately.

Appearance for Opponents: Eduardo Sanchez, Past Chair of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, Miami, 305-961-9057 and Theodore F. Green of Law Office of Theodore F. Green, LC, Orlando, 328-720-9157

Appearance for Proponents: John M. Stewart, President of Florida Bar, Vero Beach, 772-231-4440; Susan V. Warner, Rules of Judicial Administration Committee Member, Miami, 904-293-0725; Lara B. Bach, Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar, Miami, 305-577-3135 and Jennifer S. Richardson, Florida Association of Women Lawyers, Jacksonville, 904-638-2655

Appearance for Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program: Thomasina F. Moore, Tallahassee, 850-922-7213 

Appearance for Juvenile Court Rules Committee: David Silverstein, Bradenton, 941-741-3706

SC17-2244 Raymond Bright v. State of Florida

Duval County - starts about 9:30 a.m. 

Mr. Bright was convicted of the first-degree murders of Derrick King and Randall Brown, who were beaten to death in 2008. The jury recommended the death penalty by a vote of 8-4 and the trial court condemned Mr. Bright to death. This Court upheld the convictions and sentences on direct appeal. Mr. Bright filed a post-conviction challenge in the trial court and was granted a new penalty phase. The State of Florida appealed. This Court agreed with the order and remanded for a new penalty phase. This is Bright’s appeal from the second penalty phase at which a death sentence was again imposed for each murder after unanimous recommendations by the jury.

Appearance for Appellant: Victoria Wiggins, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, 850-606-8500

Appearance for Appellee: Lisa A. Hopkins, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300

--10-minute break--

SC18-1192 David Kelsey Sparre v. State of Florida and SC19-389 David Kelsey Sparre v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Duval County - starts about 10:20 a.m.

Mr. Sparre was convicted of the first-degree murder of Tiara Pool, who was stabbed to death in 2010. The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty and the trial court condemned Mr. Sparre to death. This Court upheld his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, and he filed a post-conviction challenge in the trial court. It was denied and this appeal followed.

Appearance for Appellant/Petitioner: Stacy R. Biggart, Asst. CCRC, Tallahassee, 850-487-0922

Appearance for Appellee/Respondent: Janine D. Robinson, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3606

August 28, 2019

SC19-253 Inquiry Concerning a Judge, No. 18-386 Re: Ernest A. Kollra 

Broward County - starts at 9:00 a.m. 

Circuit Judge Ernest A. Kollra has been summoned before the Court to receive a public reprimand for misconduct.

SC19-328  Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General Re: Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice and SC19-479 Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General Re: Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice (FIS)

Statewide case - starts about 9:10 a.m.

The Attorney General has requested this Court’s opinion as to whether the text of the proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, titled “Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice,” complies with Florida law and meets two legal requirements: (1) contains only a single subject; and (2) has a fair ballot summary.

Appearance for Attorney General (Introduction of Petition and Presenting Parties): John M. Guard, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300

Appearance for Opponents: TBD

Appearance for Proponents, Citizens for Energy Choice: Kenneth W. Sukhia of Sukhia & Williams Law PLLC, Tallahassee, 850-383-9111

Appearance for Proponents, Infinite Energy, Inc.: Warren Rhea, Gainesville, 352-231-2579

SC19-87 Michael Barnett, etc., et al. v. State of Florida, Department of Financial Services, et al

Palm Beach County - starts about 10:10 a.m.

The estranged husband of Natasha Whyte-Dell entered her residence and fatally shot her and four of her children in 2010. Mr. Barnett and Mr. Nelson, as personal representatives of the estates of the children, filed an action against the State of Florida seeking compensation for wrongful death and negligence. They argued that during a domestic violence investigation, the Department of Children and Families failed to protect the children from harm. The State of Florida argued its sovereign immunity limits financial recovery for victims under Florida law. Mr. Barnett and Mr. Nelson claimed each shooting qualified as a separate incident or occurrence and, therefore, the limitations do not apply. The trial court ruled that the shooting created a separate incident for purposes of the sovereign immunity damage caps under Florida law. On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court ruling but certified a question of great public importance to this Court.

Appearance for Petitioner: Lauri W. Ross of Ross & Girten, Miami, 305-670-8010

Appearance for Respondents: Peter M. Dunbar of Dean, Mead & Dunbar, Tallahassee, 850-999-4100

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SC19-487 Frederic Guttenberg, etc., et al. v. The School Board of Broward County

Broward County - starts about 11:00 a.m.

A shooting incident at a high school in Broward County resulted in seventeen deaths and numerous injuries in 2018. Mr. Guttenberg and others filed motions in the trial court to determine whether the school shooting was a single occurrence or whether each shot that produced a separate injury was a separate occurrence. The School Board of Broward County argued the incident was a single occurrence and its sovereign immunity limits financial recovery for victims under Florida law. The trial court ruled in favor of the School Board of Broward County. Mr. Guttenberg appealed the ruling to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, and the Fourth DCA certified a question of great public importance to this Court.

Appearance for Petitioners: Stephen F. Rosenthal of Podhurst Orseck, P.A., Miami, 305-358-2800

Appearance for Respondent: Eugene K. Pettis of Haliczer, Pettis & Schwamm PA, Fort Lauderdale, 954-328-5462

August 29, 2019

SC18-146 Darious Wilcox v. State of Florida

Broward County - starts about 9:00 a.m.

Mr. Wilcox was convicted of the first-degree murder of Nimoy Johnson, who was fatally shot in 2008. The jury voted 7-5 to recommend a death sentence and the trial court condemned him to death. This Court upheld his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, and he filed a post-conviction challenge in the trial court. It was denied and this appeal followed.

Appearance for Appellant: Paul Kalil, Asst. CCRC, Fort Lauderdale, 954-713-1284

Appearance for Appellee: Lisa-Marie Lerner, Asst. Attorney General, West Palm Beach, 561-837-5000

SC17-1975 Genghis Nicholas Kocaker v. State of Florida and SC18-878 Genghis Nicholas Kocaker v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Pinellas County - starts about 9:40 a.m.

Mr. Kocaker was convicted of the first-degree murder of Eric Stanton, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after being trapped in a fire in his cab in 2004. The jury voted 11-1 to recommend a death sentence and the trial court condemned him to death. This Court upheld his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. Mr. Kocaker filed a post-conviction challenge in the trial court. All claims were denied except the trial court granted him a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst v. State. Mr. Kocaker has asked this Court for review. Additionally, Kocaker seeks review of a related petition for habeas corpus.

Appearance for Appellant/Petitioner: Chelsea R. Shirley, Asst. CCRC, Temple Terrace, 813-558-1600

Appearance for Appellee/Respondent: Christina Z. Pacheco, Asst. Attorney General, Tampa, 813-287-7910

August 30, 2019

SC18-468 Florida Highway Patrol, etc. v. Lashonta Renea Jackson, etc.

Alachua County - starts about 9:00 a.m.

The Florida Highway Patrol closed a portion of I-75 due to a brush fire. After the FHP reopened the interstate a multiple-car collision occurred, resulting in the death of Vontavia Robinson. Ms. Jackson, the personal representative of Mr. Robinson’s estate, filed a lawsuit seeking damages accusing FHP of negligence by reopening the interstate. FHP asked the trial court to dismiss the case and argued it was shielded by sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motion. FHP appealed to the First District Court of Appeal and was denied, but the First DCA certified a question of great public importance to this Court.

Appearance for Petitioners: Christopher J. Baum, Deputy Solicitor General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300

Appearance for Respondents: Jack J. Fine of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., Gainesville, 352-372-7777

SC18-899 Joseph Edward Jordan v. State of Florida and SC18-2012 Joseph Edward Jordan v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Volusia County - starts about 9:40 a.m.

Mr. Jordan was convicted of the first-degree murder and robbery of Keith Cope, who died of complications of being bound and gagged for days in 2009. The jury recommended the death penalty for the murder by a vote of 10-2 and the trial court condemned Mr. Jordan to death. This Court upheld the convictions and sentences on direct appeal. Mr. Jordan filed a post-conviction challenge in the trial court, which denied Mr. Jordan's guilt-phase challenges to his first-degree murder conviction but granted ​him a new penalty phase. Mr. Jordan ​appealed the denial of his guilt-phase claims to this Court.

Appearance for Appellant/Petitioner: Adrienne J. Shepherd, Asst. CCRC, Temple Terrace, 813-558-1600

Appearance for Appellee/Respondent: Patrick A. Bobek, Asst. Attorney General, Daytona Beach, 386-238-4990

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