February 2019 Summaries

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February 6, 2019

SC18-226 Florida Industrial Power Users Group v. Julie Imanuel Brown, etc, et al.

Statewide - starts at 9:00 a.m.

The Florida Industrial Power Users Group challenges a decision made by the Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities, to approve a rate increase requested by Florida Power and Light to recover costs for the construction of several solar energy projects. The FIPUG argues the PSC’s decision was not prudent because the projects were neither needed nor cost-effective. The PSC and FPL argue that the decision was appropriate and proper.

Appearance for Appellant: Jon C. Moyle, Jr. of Moyle Law Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, 850-681-3828
Appearance for Appellee: Adria E. Harper, Tallahassee, 850-413-6199 & Alvin B. Davis of Squire Patton Boggs LLP, Miami, 305-577-2835

SC18-213 Citizens of the State of Florida v. Julie Imanuel Brown, etc., et al.

Statewide - starts at 9:40 a.m. 

The Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities, approved an order permitting Florida Power and Light to recover from customers the costs of an environmental cleanup project at its Turkey Point Power Plant. The Office of Public Counsel appealed on behalf of utility customers. OPC argues that FPL cannot recover these costs because the cleanup project does not prevent future environmental harm and that the cleanup is not part of an earlier monitoring project.

Appearance for Appellant: Charles J. Rehwinkel, Deputy Public Counsel, Tallahassee, 850-488-9330
Appearance for Appellee: Samantha M. Cibula, Tallahassee, 850-413-6199 & Stuart H. Singer of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Ft. Lauderdale, 954-356-0011

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SC18-320 American Southern Home Insurance Company v. Louis Philip Lentini, etc.

Hernando County – starts about 10:30 a.m.

In 2015, Michael Lentini died in a motorcycle accident. His estate filed a claim with American Southern Home Insurance Company to collect on a specialty collector vehicle insurance policy purchased by Mr. Lentini for his 1992 Corvette. American Southern denied the claim because Mr. Lentini was not in the Corvette when the accident occurred. Mr. Lentini’s estate filed a lawsuit in response to the claim denial, and the trial court ruled in favor of American Southern. On appeal, the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and determined that Florida Law provides uninsured motorist coverage to the insured rather than the covered vehicle. American Southern asked this Court to review the decision arguing it conflicts with a previous decision of this Court.

Appearance for Petitioner: Raoul G. Cantero of White & Case LLP, Miami, 305-371-2700
Appearance for Respondent: John N. Bogdanoff of The Carlyle Appellate Law Firm, Orlando, 407-377-6870

SC18-683 Halifax Hospital Medical Center, etc. v. State of Florida, et al.

Statewide – starts about 11:10 a.m.

Halifax Hospital Medical Center is a special tax district of Volusia County created by Florida Law. In 2018, Halifax filed suit in the trial court to validate a bond issue to establish a hospital in the City of Deltona. The trial court denied the bond validation, reasoning the project was outside the scope of Halifax’s authority. Halifax challenged the trial court’s ruling in this Court, arguing that Florida law provides the necessary authority to establish and operate medical facilities outside its geographic boundaries.

Appearance for Petitioner: Elliot H. Scherker of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Miami, 305-579-0500
Appearance for Respondent: Martin B. Goldberg of Lash & Goldberg LLP, Miami, 305-347-4040

February 7, 2019

SC18-785 State of Florida v. D.V., etc.

Dade County - starts at 9:00 a.m. 

D.V. was adjudicated delinquent on a charge of being a minor in possession of a firearm.  On appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded the State failed to prove D.V. had possession of the firearm and returned the case to the trial court to dismiss the delinquency petition.  The State asked this Court for review, arguing the Third DCA’s decision conflicts with other appellate court decisions.

Appearance for Petitioner: Gabrielle Raemy Charest-Turken, Asst. Attorney General, Miami, 305-377-5441
Appearance for Respondent: Jeffrey P. DeSousa, Asst. Public Defender, Miami, 305-545-1960

SC18-309 Arnold Jerome Knight v. State of Florida

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

Mr. Knight was convicted of attempted second-degree murder with a weapon.  Mr. Knight appealed his conviction arguing that jurors were given an erroneous instruction on the lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter with a weapon that included the element of “intent to kill.” The First District Court of Appeal held that the erroneous jury instruction was not fundamental error and that it was waived. The First District also certified conflict with a decision of another district court and certified a question of great public importance. 

Appearance for Petitioner: Glenn P. Gifford, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, 850-606-8500
Appearance for Respondent: Kaitlin R. Weiss, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300

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SC18-372 State of Florida v. Shawnest Angelo Ivey

Jackson County – starts about 10:30 a.m.

Mr. Ivey appealed his criminal convictions arguing the trial court erred in allowing a peremptory challenge by the State to strike an African-American juror. The First District Court of Appeal reversed Mr. Ivey’s convictions and sent the case back to the trial court. The First DCA concluded the State’s reason to strike the juror was insufficient and also certified a question of great public importance for this Court’s review. 

Appearance for Petitioner: Virginia Harris, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300
Appearance for Respondent: Jennifer Lavia, Tallahassee, 850-644-7472

SC18-340 Johnny Mack Sketo Calhoun v. State of Florida
SC18-1174 Johnny Mack Sketo Calhoun v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Holmes County – starts about 11:10 a.m.

Mr. Calhoun was convicted of the first-degree murder of Mia Chay Brown, who was kidnapped and burned to death in 2010. The jury voted 9-3 to recommend a death sentence, and the trial court condemned Mr. Calhoun to death. This Court upheld the sentence and conviction on direct appeal. In the initial postconviction proceedings below, the circuit court granted Mr. Calhoun relief from his death sentence and ordered a new penalty phase, but denied relief on Mr. Calhoun's claims related to his conviction.  In this appeal, Mr. Calhoun raises multiple guilt-phase issues, including newly discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel.

Appearance for Appellant: Stacy Biggart, CCRC-North, Tallahassee, 850-487-0922
Appearance for Appellees: Lisa A. Hopkins, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300

February 20, 2019

SC18-792 Byron McGraw v. State of Florida

Palm Beach County – starts at 10:00 a.m.

In 2016, Mr. McGraw was involved in a single car accident and was found unconscious at the scene. The responding police officer smelled an odor of alcohol and later requested a blood draw from Mr. McGraw, while he lay unconscious, to determine his blood alcohol content level. Consequently, Mr. McGraw was charged with driving under the influence. Mr. McGraw filed a motion with the trial court to throw out the results of the blood test, arguing it was an unlawful search because he was unconscious during the warrantless blood draw and did not give his consent. The trial court denied the motion but certified a question to the Fourth District Court of Appeal regarding Florida’s implied consent law. On appeal, the Fourth DCA decided that the implied consent law is constitutional and permits a warrantless blood draw of an unconscious DUI suspect, but certified a question of great public importance for this Court’s review.

Appearance for Petitioner: Benjamin Eisenberg, Asst. Public Defender, West Palm Beach, 561-355-7600
Appearance for Respondent: Richard Valuntas, Asst. Attorney General, West Palm Beach, 561-837-5016