February 2020 Summaries

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This webpage for oral argument week is continuously updated once the tentative calendar is available.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

SC19-1536 Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General Re: Regulate Marijuana In A Manner Similar to Alcohol To Establish Age, Licensing, and Restrictions

Statewide - Starts at 9:00 a.m.

The Attorney General has petitioned the Court to review a proposed citizens' initiative on regulating marijuana similar to alcohol, asking whether it meets two legal requirements: (1) It contains only a single subject; and (2) It has a fair ballot summary.

Appearance for The Attorney General:
Jeffrey P. Desousa, Deputy Solicitor General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3300 

Appearance for Florida Chamber of Commerce, Drug Free America Foundation, National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, and Save Our Society From Drugs:
Daniel Nordby Of Shutts & Bowen LLP, Tallahassee, 850-241-1717 

Appearance for The Florida House of Representatives:
Mohammad O. Jazil of Hopping Green & Sams, P.A., Tallahassee, 850-222-7500 

Appearance for Sponsor, Sensible Florida, Inc.:
Michael C. Minardi of Minardi Law, Tampa, 813-995-8227

SC19-1266 Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General Re: Prohibits Possession Of Defined Assault Weapons

Statewide - starts about 9:40 a.m.

The Attorney General has petitioned the Court to review a proposed citizens' initiative on assault weapons in Florida, asking whether it meets two legal requirements: (1) It contains only a single subject; and (2) It has a fair ballot summary.

Appearance For The Attorney General:
James H. Percival, Deputy Solicitor General, Tallahassee 850-414-3681

Appearance For The National Rifle Association:
Andy Bardos Of Grayrobinson, P.A., Tallahassee, 850-577-9090

Appearance For National Shooting Sports Foundation:
Amber S. Nunnally Of Shutts & Bowen, Tallahassee, 850-241-1717

Appearance For Ban Assault Weapons Now:
Jon L. Mills Of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Miami, 305-539-8400

Appearance For Brady And Team Enough:
Kyle A. Casazza Of Proskauer Rose LLP, Los Angeles, 310-557-2900

Appearance For Municipalities:
Jamie A. Cole Of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, P.L., Ft. Lauderdale, 954-763-4242

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

SC19-1302 Inquiry Concerning A Judge, Robin Lemonidis, (No. 19-101 & No. 19-175)

Brevard County - Starts at 9:00 a.m.

Circuit Judge Robin Lemonidis has been summoned before the Court to receive a public reprimand for misconduct.

SC19-1250 Robert Emerson, et al. v. Hillsborough County, Florida, etc., et al. & SC19-1343 Stacy White v. Hillsborough County, Florida, etc., et al.

Hillsborough - starts about 9:10 a.m.

Voters in November 2018 approved a one-cent surtax to fund county transportation projects in Hillsborough County.  Mr. Emerson and Mr. White filed separate lawsuits in the trial court challenging the surtax. Mr. Emerson, a county resident, challenged the legality of the bond used to fund the projects. Mr. White, a County Commissioner, challenged the constitutionality of the tax, arguing it took power from county commissioners. The circuit court found the tax to be legal in part but severed certain portions it found to be unconstitutional. This appeal followed.

Appearance for Appellant, Stacy White:
Chris Altenbernd of Banker Lopez Gassler, P.A., Tampa, 813-221-1500

Appearance for Appellant/Cross-Appellee, Robert Emerson:
Derek T. Ho of Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, P.L.L.C., Washington, D.C.,
202-326-7900

Appearance for Appellee/Cross-Appellant, Hillsborough County:
George S. Lemieux of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart P.A., Ft. Lauderdale, 954-462-2000

Appearance for Appellee/Cross-Appellant, Tyler Hudson, Keep Hillsborough Moving, Inc., And All For Transportation:
Raoul G. Cantero Of White & Case LLP, Miami, 305-371-2700

SC19-96 State of Florida v. Geovani Johnson

Broward - starts about 9:50 a.m.

Mr. Johnson appealed his criminal convictions, arguing that the trial court erred by not conducting the proper legal analysis in allowing a peremptory strike against an African-American juror. The Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed and granted Mr. Johnson a new trial, certifying conflict with the Second, Third, and Fifth Districts concerning the proper procedure for peremptory challenges. This Court accepted jurisdiction to resolve the conflict among the district courts.

Appearance for Petitioner:
Kimberly T. Acuña, Asst. Attorney General, West Palm Beach, 561-837-5016

Appearance for Respondent:
Richard G. Bartmon, Asst. Regional Counsel, West Palm Beach, 561-837-5156

-- 10-minute Break --

SC18-2014 James Terry Colley, Jr. v. State of Florida

St. Johns County - starts about 10:40 a.m.

Mr. Colley was convicted of the first-degree premeditated and felony murders of Amanda Colley and Lindy Dobbins, who were fatally shot in 2015. The jury unanimously recommended a death sentence for both murders, and the trial court sentenced Mr. Colley to death. This is his direct appeal.

Appearance for Appellant:
George D.E. Burden, Asst. Public Defender, Daytona Beach, 386-254-3758

Appearance for Appellee:
Patrick Bobek, Asst. Attorney General, Daytona Beach, 386-226-0457

SC18-1763 Terry Smith v. State of Florida & SC19-680 Terry Smith v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Duval - starts about 11:40 a.m.

Mr. Smith was convicted of the first-degree murders of Desmond Robinson, Berthum Gibson, and Keenethia Keenan, who were fatally shot in 2007. The jury recommended two death sentences: for the murder of Ms. Keenan by a vote of 10-2 and for the murder of Mr. Gibson by a vote of 8-4. The trial judge condemned Mr. Smith to death for those two murders and to life in prison for the murder of Mr. Robinson, and this Court upheld the sentences and convictions on direct appeal. Mr. Smith filed post-conviction challenges in the trial court and was granted a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst v. State for the death sentence convictions. The trial court denied the remaining challenges, and this appeal followed. Mr. Smith has also filed a habeas corpus petition.

Appearance for Appellant/Petitioner:
Karin L. Moore, Asst. CCRC, Tallahassee, 850-487-0922

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

Thursday, February 6, 2020

SC18-680 The Florida Bar v. D. Mark Payne

Starts at 9:00 a.m.

In this attorney discipline case, The Florida Bar accused Mr. Payne of violating the ethical standards for lawyers, including misconduct in a real estate matter. The judge-referee recommends that this Court disbar Mr. Payne and require him to pay the Bar’s costs in the disciplinary proceedings. The Florida Bar supports that recommendation. Mr. Payne challenges the referee’s findings of fact in support of the referee’s conclusions as to guilt and the recommendation of disbarment. He argues that a non-rehabilitative suspension is a more appropriate discipline if the Court ultimately concludes that he is guilty of the rule violations.

Appearance for Respondent: 
Mark Payne, Lakewood Ranch, 941-567-5233

Appearance for The Florida Bar:
Lindsey M. Guinand, Tampa, 813-875-9821

SC18-1108 State of Florida v. Elizabeth Francis Marsh a/k/a Elizabeth Frances Marsh

Polk - starts about 9:30 a.m.

Ms. Marsh pleaded guilty to two counts each of driving under the influence (DUI) causing serious bodily injury and driving with license suspended (DWLS) causing serious bodily injury after she rear-ended another vehicle. The trial court sentenced her to five-year prison sentences on each count. Ms. Marsh appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal, claiming that convictions for both DUI with serious bodily injury and DWLS with serious bodily injury as to the same victim violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. The Second DCA agreed. The State of Florida asked this Court for review, arguing the Second DCA’s decision conflicts with another appellate court decision.

Appearance for Petitioner:
Peter Koclanes, Asst. Attorney General, Tampa, 813-287-7900

Appearance for Respondent:
Lee Levenson, Boyton Beach, 561-523-2118

-- 10-minute Break --

SC18-581 Heritage Manor of Memorial Park, Inc., et al. v. DFG Group, LLC, et al.

Palm Beach - starts about 10:20 a.m.

This case involves the sale of a mausoleum cemetery business. Heritage Manor alleged that DFG unfairly induced the sale at less than fair market value by secretly coordinating with Heritage Manor’s former attorneys.  The jury rejected the argument but awarded Heritage Manor $2 million in compensatory damages and more than $2 million in punitive damages.  On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed both compensatory and punitive damage awards.  Heritage Manor asked this Court for review, arguing that the Fourth DCA’s decision conflicts with a decision from this Court and other appellate court decisions.

Appearance for Petitioner:
Bard D. Rockenbach of Burlington & Rockenbach, P.A., West Palm Beach, 561-721-0400

Appearance for Respondent:
Lauren V. Purdy of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A., Tallahassee, 904-350-7168