The purpose of this summary provided by the Communications Department of The Florida Bar is to present media coverage that may be of interest to members. Opinions expressed in the articles are attributable solely to the authors. The Florida Bar does not adopt or endorse any opinions expressed below. For information on previous articles, please contact the publishing newspaper directly.
May 26, 2023
The Florida Bar
FEDERAL COURTHOUSE IN TALLAHASSEE TO BE RENAMED IN HONOR OF JOSEPH W. HATCHETT JUNE 30
The Florida Bar | Article | May 26, 2023
On June 30, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida will hold a renaming ceremony to honor civil rights pioneer and former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett. The ceremony will rename the United States Courthouse and Federal Building in Tallahassee. Hatchett, the first Black person since Reconstruction to serve on Florida’s highest court and retired as the chief judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, passed away on April 30, 2021. Judge Hatchett attended Florida A&M and Howard University School of Law, became the first Black federal judicial officer in the South, served on Florida Supreme Court, won statewide election, and served as federal circuit court judge for 20 years. The ceremony will be held at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee on June 30 at 11 am. RSVP to Marilyn Mann by June 11 at (404) 433-4593 or [email protected].
FUNDING BOOST FOR LEGAL SELF-HELP CENTERS
Vero News | Article | May 25, 2023
The Board of Indian River County Commissioners unanimously approved future funding for the New Access to Justice Legal Self-Help Centers during their meeting on May 16. These centers aim to assist low-income residents navigating the legal system without expensive attorneys, reducing court backlogs and costs. Two confidential Self-Help Centers equipped with legal kiosks will be operational in July, with one located at the County Courthouse and the other at the United Against Poverty UP Center. The long-term goal is to establish additional centers throughout the county. The kiosks will provide necessary forms for various matters, such as family law and landlord/tenant disputes, allowing filings through the kiosks. They will also offer connectivity for short Zoom conversations with pro bono attorneys. Funding for the centers will be redirected from Florida Rural Legal Services, and initial operational costs have been covered by the United Way of Indian River County and the John’s Island Community Service League. Nancy Ludo has been hired as the program director.
FLORIDA ELECTION BILL IMMEDIATELY CHALLENGED IN FEDERAL COURT
Tampa Bay Times | Article | May 25, 2023
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 7050, a major elections bill, on Wednesday [May 24]. The new law faced immediate legal challenges as organizations like the League of Women Voters of Florida and the NAACP filed federal lawsuits. They argue that the bill’s restrictions violate First Amendment rights and disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic voters. The bill, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last month, focuses on regulating “third-party” voter registration groups. It increases fines for violations, shortens the application submission deadline, prohibits non-citizens and certain felons from handling applications, and restricts the retention of personal voter information. The lawsuits, filed in federal court in Tallahassee, seek injunctions against the contested provisions, alleging First Amendment, due process, and equal protection violations. Supporters argue the changes enhance security, while opponents fear a chilling effect on voter registration efforts.
GOV. DESANTIS SIGNS BIPARTISAN BILL CRACKING DOWN ON WINDSHIELD REPAIR LAWSUITS
Florida Politics | Article | May 25, 2023
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation (SB 1002) that aims to curb the surge in auto glass lawsuits in the state. The new law prohibits the use of assignment of benefits (AOB) in auto glass claims, effectively ending the practice. AOB allowed policyholders to authorize repair shops to file claims on their behalf and collect payments from insurers without the policyholder’s involvement. The measure is expected to alleviate congestion in courtrooms and potentially stabilize insurance premiums for policyholders. However, critics argue that it may negatively impact small auto repair shops seeking fair compensation and a handful of lawyers who allegedly exploit the AOB process for financial gain. The law also includes provisions to prevent insurers from steering customers to specific repair shops and requires insurers to offer multiple shop options.
BROWARD JUDGE REMOVED FROM CASE OVER ‘DUE PROCESS’ CONSIDERATIONS
Daily Business Review | Article | May 25, 2023
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal has removed a Broward judge from a divorce case after finding that he denied the husband due process. The trial judge, Michael Davis, had expressed frustration with the length of the hearing, which exceeded the typical duration. However, the appellate panel agreed with the husband’s petition for writ of prohibition, stating that the judge did not allow him to present his case-in-chief. The appeals court recognized the judge’s frustration but emphasized the importance of ensuring constitutional rights to due process. The case will now be assigned to a different trial judge. Attorneys for both parties did not provide comments on the matter.
APPEALS COURT REJECTS A PINELLAS KENNEL’S COMPENSATION CLAIM AFTER THE STATE’S GREYHOUND RACING BAN
News Service of Florida | Article | May 25, 2023
On Wednesday [May 24], Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal rejected a kennel’s claim for compensation after a ban on greyhound racing was approved by voters in 2018. The court upheld a ruling that D’Arcy Kennel and its owner, Christopher D’Arcy, were not entitled to damages under the “taking” of property argument. The court emphasized the heavily regulated nature of the gambling industry and stated that D’Arcy should have reasonably expected government interference in their property investments. The constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 13, required the closure of the state’s greyhound industry by the end of 2020. The appeals court decision, issued on Wednesday, affirmed that the ban did not deprive dog owners of their property but rather regulated its use.
FEDERAL COURT TO HOLD A HEARING ON MAY 31 IN FLORIDA PRESCRIPTION DRUGS LAWSUIT
South Dade News Leader | Article | May 25, 2023
Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration are currently locked in an ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the agency stalled efforts by Florida to get cheaper prescription drugs abroad. On May 31, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida will hold a hearing on the lawsuit, which challenges an order from Magistrate Judge Julie Sneed that limited the state’s requests for information. DeSantis and the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration have been striving to lower prescription drug prices since November 2020 when they filed a proposal for a Section 804 Importation Program to the FDA. In August 2022, DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the FDA, citing a delay in approval and lack of transparency from the Biden administration. The complaint argues that American prescription drugs cost significantly more than their Canadian counterparts. Despite the delays, DeSantis signed the Prescription Drug Reform Act into law in April, which aims to reduce bureaucracy in the healthcare industry. The legal battle between Florida and the FDA remains ongoing, with the state seeking approval for their drug importation program and cost-saving measures.
U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION WEAKENS FEDERAL PROTECTIONS OF WETLANDS
First Coast News | Article | May 25, 2023
In a ruling on Thursday [May 25], the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back federal protection for wetlands that are not connected to larger bodies of water, altering safeguards that have been in place for decades. This decision affects wetlands that do not meet the criteria of the Clean Water Act, which was adopted in 1972 and is known for its stringent water protections. As a result of this ruling, developers and landowners will no longer require federal permits to fill in isolated marshes for construction purposes, disregarding the environmental consequences. While some view this as a victory for private property owners and the economy, others express concerns about potential ecological harm caused by the loss of federal protection for these wetlands.
STATE URGES JUSTICES TO REJECT FLORIDA DEATH ROW INMATE’S ARGUMENTS
News Service of Florida | Article | May 25, 2023
On Thursday [May 25], the Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office urged the state’s Supreme Court to reject arguments seeking to halt the scheduled execution of Death Row inmate Duane Owen. Owen’s attorneys had requested a stay of execution to assess his mental competency. However, Moody’s office argued that information about Owen’s mental health has long been known, making the re-litigation of claims based on new information prohibited. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a death warrant for Owen, who was convicted of murdering Georgianna Worden in May 1984 and 14-year-old Karen Slattery in March 1984. The execution is set for June 15, but a temporary hold has been placed on it as DeSantis ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Owen. Alongside the stay request, Owen’s attorneys also asked the Supreme Court to send the case back to a lower court for a competency determination and an evidentiary hearing.