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Florida's Judicial News & Views

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Terri Schiavo Case

J.A.I.L. 4 Judges -- Florida

ABA Report Finds Serious Problems in Florida's Capital Punishment System

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NEW!!! Florida J.A.I.L. for Judges files suit Against the Florida Bar To Enjoin Illegal Activity

Mother Challenges Florida Family Court Policy That Punishes Parents for Seeking to Enforce Child Visitation and Then Denies Appellate Review of the Punishment

5-12-06 --

It's hard to get justice from our judges and juries

J.D. Wright, Land O'Lakes in Letter to Editor

Florida Bar Watch!

Keeping An Eye on the Florida Board of Bar Examiners Since 2004

If you know of any dishonesty, bias, corruption, or wasteful expenditures by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, please contact us. We're actively trying to reform the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and restore it as an institution that citizens can trust.


Terri Schiavo Case

Judges Tortured, Murdered Terri
By: Gordon Bishop

Is life a right or is it a privilege granted by the government?
By: Charles W. Heckman, Dr. Sci. -- 1/25/05

Terri Schiavo Aftermath

Terri Schiavo Archives

The Hanging Judges

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Florida J.A.I.L. 4 Judges

When J.A.I.L. becomes law, corrupt judges will:
»   Be subject to civil suit!
»   Be subject to removal from the bench!
»   Be subject to criminal prosecution!
»   Be subject to serve time in prison!

Florida’s State Chapter Director, Nancy Grant
863-558-3266
e-mail:
gov-buster@hotmail.com


ABA Report Finds Serious
Problems in Florida's Capital Punishment System

A new report issued by the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project found that Florida’s application of the death penalty fails to comply with ABA standards to ensure fairness and accuracy. This report was compiled by an eight-member team composed of criminal justice experts from Florida.

The report cites problems in numerous areas, including:

  • Innocence- Florida has exonerated twenty-two death row inmates since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1973, more than any other state.

  • Representation- Counsel for the defense in capital cases are not adequately compensated. Florida has a statutory fee cap of $3500 for death penalty conflict trial counsel. Additionally, Capital Collateral Registry attorneys have a fee cap, which covers roughly 840 hours of work, even though it is estimated that capital cases will average 3,300 hours of work.

  • Oversight- The report found that there is little or no oversight of registry counsel, which leads to a lack of accountability. Florida requires only minimal trial and appellate experience for registry attorneys to be appointed to a capital case.

  • Juror Confusion- In a separate study, 48.7% of jurors sitting on capital cases in Florida erroneously thought that the defense must prove mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Of these same jurors, 36% incorrectly believed that they were required to sentence the defendant to death if they found the defendant’s conduct to be heinous, vile or depraved.

  • Unanimity- Juror decisions in capital cases do not need to be unanimous. In the United States, Florida alone allows a jury to find that aggravators exsist and to recommend a sentence of death without being unanimous.

  • Jury Override- From 1972 to 1999, 166 of the 857 death sentences in Florida were imposed by judges over the recommendation of life sentences by the jury.

  • Race- A defendant in a capital case is 3.4 times more likely to receive the death penalty if the victim is white than if the victim is African-American. Since 1973, no white defendant has been executed for killing an African-American.

The report also makes recommendations for improving the administration of the death penalty, including:

  • Innocence- The report recommends the creation of two independent commissions. The first commission would establish the cause of wrongful convictions in capital cases and recommend changes to prevent future wrongful convictions. The second commission would review claims of innocence from those sitting on death row.

  • Representation- By allowing judges the ability to determine case-by-case the correct payment, attorneys would be better compensated for their time.

  • Oversight- The report recommends that Florida attorney standards be consistent with the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases.

  • Jury Confusion- By redrafting the instructions, Florida can address some of the issues that jurors are unclear about.

  • Unanimity- Florida should require a jury’s sentencing verdict in capital cases to be unanimous.

  • Jury Override- Judicial override of jury recommendations for life sentences should be eliminated.

  • Race- Florida’s criminal justice system should commission a report on the racial disparities in the application of the death penalty and recommend ways to reduce those disparities.

Read the Executive Summary or Full Report of the ABA’s findings.


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Justices of the Supreme Court of Florida -- 2008


It's hard to get justice from our judges and juries

Letters to the Editor, St. Petersburg Times

On May 2, 2005. guest columnist Steve Rushing wrote that "Our jury system is the best, but it could be even better." My first question is how does he know it is the best? Has he experienced all other countries' legal systems?

I have recently started representing myself in court. I have grown tired of the other side's lawyers lying about me and personally insulting me in court, and my lawyer letting them get away with it.

Lawyers do that because they can't win the case on the legal merits, and their only option is character assassination or "unfair prejudice."

It is no joke when people ask if you want to be judged by people who aren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

By the time you excuse all the prospective jurors with preformed opinions, typically you have gotten rid of the intelligent individuals.

The goal is then to take these blank slates and imprint your version of events upon them. The No. 1 problem with our legal system is judicial discretion. That is the latitude judges have to make subjective decisions.

Although you may have a jury trial, the judge can still keep you from trying your case. He can do this by not allowing you to ask each prospective juror the same question, so that you can evaluate each prospective juror's reaction and answer.

Also, a judge can object to your testimony, so that you can't tell the jury your side of the story. Judges can object to you entering your exhibits, such as affidavits and transcripts of depositions, into evidence in civil trials, and then he will allow the opposing lawyer to enter his. Basically, a judge can sabotage your case by sustaining the other side's objections and overruling your objections. Judges can even not allow your witnesses to testify.

I have been treated unjustly in court, because a judge has been in a hurry. But jurors can also be in a hurry to go home. I told my jurors they could find the truth if they would just read one witness's deposition. It would have taken them two hours to read the deposition. The jury came back in less than an hour with a verdict against me. Apparently, they weren't interested in the truth.

-- J.D. Wright, Land O'Lakes

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