June 2020 Summaries

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Summaries are provided to assist the press and public better understand each case. This page is continuously updated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020 

SC18-2142 Eugene Ham III v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC & SC18-2143 Laura Foxhall v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC

Escambia County - begins at 9:00 a.m. ET

In these consolidated cases, Ham and Foxhall challenge final orders of the trial court denying their claims for prevailing party attorney's fees in actions brought by Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, to recover unpaid credit card debt under an “account stated” theory of liability. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order and certified a conflict with another appellate court decision. This appeal followed.

Appearance for Petitioners:
Louis K. Rosenbloum of Louis K. Rosenbloum, P.A., Pensacola, 850-475-1211

Appearance for Respondent:
Diane G. Dewolf of Akerman LLP, Tallahassee, 850-224-9634

SC19-953 Robert Craft v. State of Florida

Columbia County – begins about 9:40 a.m.

Craft pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of fellow inmate, Darren W. Shira, who was fatally choked and beaten at Columbia Correctional Institution in 2018. Craft waived his right to a penalty phase jury trial, and the trial court sentenced him to death. This is his direct appeal.

Appearance for Appellant:
Richard M. Bracey, III, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, 850-606-1000

Appearance for Appellee:
William D. Chappell, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3567

-- 10-minute break –

SC20-257 State of Florida v. Michael James Jackson

Begins about 10:50 a.m.

Jackson was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2005 first-degree murders of James and Carol Sumner. The jury voted 8-4 to recommend death sentences for both murders and the trial court sentenced Jackson to death. In 2009, this Court affirmed the conviction and sentence of death for both murders on direct appeal. In 2017, the trial court granted Jackson’s successive postconviction motion for a new penalty phase pursuant to this Court’s decision in Hurst v. State. Following this Court’s decision earlier this year in State v. Poole, the State of Florida filed a motion to reinstate Jackson’s death sentences, which was denied by the trial court. The trial court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to reconsider the 2017 order that granted Jackson a new penalty phase. The State of Florida now asks this Court to direct the lower court to reinstate Jackson’s death sentences.

Appearance for Petitioner:
Stephen D. Ake, Asst. Attorney General, Tampa 813-287-7910

Appearance for Respondent:
Maria DeLiberato of Parmer DeLiberato, P.A., Tampa, 717-503-2730

SC20-323 State of Florida v. Bessman Okafor

Begins about 11:30 a.m.

Okafor was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2012 first-degree murder of Alex Zaldivar. The jury voted 11-1 to recommend a death sentence and the trial court sentenced Okafor to death. This Court affirmed the conviction for first-degree murder but set aside the death sentence based on Hurst v. State. Following this Court’s decision in State v. Poole, the State of Florida filed a motion to reinstate Okafor’s death sentence, which was denied by the trial court. The State of Florida now asks this Court to direct the lower court to reinstate Okafor’s death sentences.

Appearance for Petitioner:
Doris Meacham, Asst. Attorney General, Daytona Beach, 386-238-4990

Appearance for Respondent:
Mark E. Olive of Law Office of Mark E. Olive PA, Tallahassee, 850-212-7276

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 

SC19-1305 Peoples Gas System, etc. v. Posen Construction, Inc., etc.

Begins at 9:00 a.m. ET 

Peoples Gas System sued Posen Construction, Inc. in federal court for damages under the Florida Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. Posen Construction asked the federal district court to dismiss the lawsuit because the Act does not provide Peoples Gas System a legal right to compensation. The federal district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. Peoples Gas System appealed. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has certified a question to this Court for clarification of Florida law.

Appearance for Petitioner:
Jason Gonzalez of Shutts & Bowen LLP, Tallahassee, 850-241-1717

Appearance for Respondent:
Hinda Klein of Conroy Simberg, Hollywood, 954-961-1400

SC19-701 Bill Furst, etc., et al. v. Susan K. DeFrances, et al.

Sarasota County – begins about 9:40 a.m.

The Property Appraiser of Sarasota County issued back taxes on DeFrances’ property after he discovered a clerical error that had caused her property to be undervalued in a prior tax year. DeFrances challenged the Property Appraiser’s authority to issue the back taxes on her property. The trial court concluded that DeFrances’ property was subject to back taxes. On appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held that the property was not subject to back taxes. Furst, the Property Appraiser, asks this Court for review based on district conflict and because this issue affects a class of constitutional officers.

Appearance for Petitioners:
Jason A. Lessinger of Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A., Sarasota,
941-366-8100

Appearance for Respondents:
Sherri L. Johnson of Johnson Legal of Florida, P.L., Sarasota, 941-926-1155

-- 10-minute break --

SC19-8 Michael Lawrence Woodbury v. State of Florida

Okeechobee County – begins about 10:30 a.m.

Woodbury was convicted of the first-degree murder of fellow inmate, Antoneeze Haynes, who was fatally beaten at Okeechobee Correction Institution in 2017. The jury unanimously voted to recommend a death sentence, and the trial court sentenced Woodbury to death. This is his direct appeal.

Appearance for Appellant:
Mara C. Herbert, Asst. Public Defender, West Palm Beach, 561-355-7600

Appearance for Appellee:
Rhonda Giger, Asst. Attorney General, West Palm Beach, 561-837-5000

SC18-1238 Jason Andrew Simpson v. State of Florida & SC19-700 Jason Andrew Simpson v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Duval County – begins about 11:30 a.m.

Simpson was convicted of the first-degree murders of Archie Crook and Kimberli Kimbler who were axed to death in 1999. The jury recommended a sentence of death by a vote of 8-4 for Crook’s murder and 9-3 for Kimbler’s murder. The trial court sentenced Simpson to death and this Court upheld the convictions and sentences on direct appeal. Simpson filed post-conviction challenges in the trial court and was granted a new penalty phase pursuant to Hurst v. State for the first-degree murder charges. The trial court denied the remaining challenges, and this appeal followed. Simpson has also filed a habeas corpus petition.

Appearance for Appellant/Petitioner:
John S. Mills of The Mills Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, 850-765-0897

Appearance for Appellee/Respondent:
Michael T. Kennett, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3595

Thursday, June 4, 2020 

SC19-1335 In Re: Amendments to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar-Rule 1-3.2(b)

Statewide – begins at 9:00 a.m. ET

Members of The Florida Bar ask this Court to amend the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar by deleting existing Rule 1-3.2(b) (Membership Classifications; Conditionally Admitted Members) and adding new Rule 3-4.8 (Consent Agreements). The proposed changes are aimed at reducing the stigma often associated with a disability by reorienting the consent agreement process away from punishing disabilities, e.g., probation and mandatory monitoring costs, to treating a consent agreement as a reasonable accommodation for a disability-related need.

Appearance for Disability Independence Group:
Matthew W. Dietz, Miami, 305-669-2822

Appearance for The Florida Bar:
Ronald P. Ponzoli, West Palm Beach, 561-886-4100 and
Wayne L. Smith, Key West, 305-296-0029 and
Allison C. Sackett, Tallahassee, 850-561-5845

Appearance for Disability Rights Florida:
Megan M. Collins, Tampa, 850-488-9071 and
Ann Marie Cintron-Siegel, Hollywood, 850-488-9790 and
Lauren B. Eversole, Tallahassee

SC19-428 Johnathan I. Alcegaire v. State of Florida

Polk County – begins about 9:30 a.m.

Alcegaire was convicted of the first-degree murders of David Washington, Eneida Branch, and Angelica Castro, who were fatally shot in 2016. The jury unanimously voted to recommend a death sentence for each murder, and the trial court sentenced Alcegaire to death. This is his direct appeal.

Appearance for Appellant:
Alice B. Copek, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, 850-445-4951

Appearance for Appellee:
Timothy A. Freeland, Asst. Attorney General, Tampa, 813-287-7910

-- 10-minute break --

SC19-704 Tina Lasonya Brown v. State of Florida & SC19-1419 Tina Lasonya Brown v. Mark S. Inch, etc.

Escambia County – beings about 10:40 a.m.

Brown was convicted of the first-degree murder of Audreanna Zimmerman who was kidnapped and set on fire in 2010. The jury unanimously voted to recommend a death sentence and the trial court sentenced Brown to death. This Court affirmed the conviction and sentence on direct appeal and Brown filed a post-conviction challenge in the trial court. It was denied and this appeal followed. Brown has also filed a habeas corpus petition.

Appearance for Appellant/Petitioner:
Dawn B. Macready, Asst. CCRC, Tallahassee, 850-487-0922

Appearance for Appellee/Respondent:
Michael T. Kennett, Asst. Attorney General, Tallahassee, 850-414-3595