Florida Criminal Appeals Attorney Law

Appellate Law, Criminal Defense and Appeals and Post Conviction Relief in Florida Courts, Federal District Courts and the 11th Circuit

ACLU Publishes DOJ Memo Addressing “Public Authority” Justification to Unlawful Killing of United States Cititizens

In September 2011, the CIA conducted a drone strike killing Anwar al-Awlaki, a United States citizen who allegedly rose to become a senior member of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch.  Since this mission, the government has been under scrutiny concerning their legal basis for this mission because Section 1119(b) of Title 18 of the United States Code makes it unlawful for a person being a national of the United States to kill a national of the United States while such national is outside of the United States.

Today, the ACLU published the report of the Department of Justice detailing the history and application of the “public authority” justification.  You can read the heavily redacted report here.

Brevard County Judge Takes Leave of Absence for Anger Management Counseling

Florida Today  is reporting that the Brevard County Judge who was involved in a alleged brawl with an assistant public defender voluntarily agreed to take a temporary leave of absence and seek “anger management counseling and treatment.”  The judges’ cases have been reassigned.

Brevard County Judge and Assistant Public Defender Reportedly in Brawl

Here is some amazing video of an argument between a Brevard County, Florida judge and an Assistant Public Defender (APD) after the APD refused to waive speedy trial.  The judge was particularly annoyed with the defense attorney and reportedly went into the hall and got into a brawl (which it appears that you can hear on the video).

This story is getting national attention.

You are Being Watched: Palm Beach County Juror Faces Criminal Contempt Charges for Social Media Comments

The Palm Beach Post is reporting the Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jack Cox recently issued an order to show cause to a juror who used social media to “broadcast his views on a case he was deciding” despite admonitions to not engage in such conduct.  Apparently, counsel discovered Facebook comments by the juror while the proceeding was ongoing and reported the posts to the court.  Judge Cox was then forced to replace the juror with an alternate.

Florida’s Standard Jury Instruction 1.1 which is given when jurors are in the courtroom, prior to voir dire, warns:

I want to stress that this rule means you must not use electronic devices or computers to communicate about this case, including tweeting, texting, blogging, e-mailing, posting information on a website or chat room, or any other means at all.  Do not send or accept any messages to or from anyone about this case or your jury service.

(Emphasis added).

Given the prevalence of social media, it is surprising that fewer instances of juror misconduct are reported by the media.

Florida’s Fourth and Second DCAs Start New Year With Interesting Opinions

The Second and Fourth District Courts of Appeal have started off the New Year with a couple of opinions that Florida’s criminal defense and criminal appeals attorneys should take a minute to read.

In the first opinion, Peterson v. State, No. 2D11-5083, the Court held that a vehicle’s air bag control system report was properly admitted into evidence at trial because the report is not testimonial.  In short, because the Court determined that the report was non-testimonial, the court rejected Peterson’s contention that the admission of the report violated the Confrontation Clause.  In so holding, the Court reasoned that the air bag system report was analogous to a defendant’s driving record.  Slip. op., pgs. 2-5 (citing Card v. State, 927 So. 2d 200 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) and Pfleiger v. State, 952 So. 2d 1251 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007)).

Next, in Seymour v. State, No. 4D13-4649, the court entertained, and granted, Seymour’s emergency petition for writ of habeas corpus, wherein Seymour asked the Court to reverse the trial court’s decision to deny him bond after an Arthur hearing (State v. Arthur, 390 So. 2d 717, 718 (Fla. 1980)).  The Court granted the petition, and ordered the trial court to set a reasonable bond for Seymour.  This opinion is worth the few minutes it will take to read because opinions on bond issues don’t come up as often as criminal defense attorneys might like.  And, since the Court took the time to review several other bond cases, the Seymour opinion might be a good one to keep handy.


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