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Florida First Amendment Law

Juan Aguilar vs. The State of Florida

On Sunday, December 9, 2007, at approximately 3:00 a.m., a three-car
accident occurred in the four westbound lanes of State Road 836 near the 27th
Avenue exit. At approximately 3:11 a.m., Florida Highway Patrol Trooper
Bobadilla (“Trooper Bobadilla”) received a dispatch regarding this accident.
When he arrived at the scene, Miami Dade Expressway Authority (“MDX”) Road
Ra... More...
   $0 (01-18-2018 - FL)

United States of America v. Stephanie Lois Watkins, a/k/a Stephanie Harrell

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

Stephanie Watkins, a native and citizen of Jamaica—and until her deportation in 2003, a lawful permanent resident of the United States—appeals her conviction for reentering the country illegally following deportation. On appeal, Watkins argues that her indictment should have been dismissed because her deportation order was invalid due to a change in what crimes are considered “crimes involving mor... More...   $0 (01-05-2018 - FL)

Commodores Entertainment Corporation v. Thomas McClary and Fifth Avenue Entertainment, LLC

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

In this common-law trademark case, Thomas McClary appeals from an order granting judgment as a matter of law to Commodores Entertainment Corporation (CEC) and converting a preliminary injunction into a permanent one against McClary and his corporation, Fifth Avenue Entertainment, LLC. The dispute concerned ownership of the mark “The Commodores,” the name of a famous Grammy Award–winning rhythm and... More...   $0 (01-09-2018 - FL)

Evertee Simmons and Dontell Stephens v. Ric Bradshaw, Palm Beach Sheriff

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

Dontrell Stephens was shot four times by Deputy Sheriff Adams Lin during
an encounter in West Palm Beach, Florida, on September 13, 2013. As a result,
Stephens now suffers from permanent paralysis.
In an action brought against Deputy Lin as an individual and Sheriff Ric
Bradshaw in his official capacity as the sheriff of Palm Beach County, the district
court granted summary jud... More...
   $0 (01-11-2018 - FL)


The evidence showed that on the night of 28 July 2014, a masked man armed
with a gun, later identified as defendant, entered the I-40 Supergas gas station and
convenience store in Johnston County, North Carolina. Defendant demanded money
from the clerk behind the counter, Sunny Kapoor. When Mr. Kapoor informed
defendant that the cash register was locked and had to be opened u... More...
   $0 (01-07-2018 - FL)

Kristen Elizabeth Wagner vs State of Florida

On the night of July 26, 2014, Appellant and her husband got into an argument
that turned violent. Appellant had been drinking (she said she had two rum-and
cokes; he said she had as many as five), and the husband claimed that she was the
aggressor. However, the husband admitted that during the argument, he held
Appellant down on the bed, pushed her to the floor, and took her ... More...
   $0 (12-31-2017 - FL)

Sylvester Hooks vs State of Florida

Prior to trial on two counts2 and on violation of probation, Hooks informed
the trial court that he wished to represent himself. The trial court had Hooks read,
initial, and sign a form entitled “Self-Representation Advisory Form/Trial” (“the
form”). The trial court then asked if Hooks read over the form carefully. Hooks
answered in the affirmative. The trial court then proceed... More...
   $0 (12-31-2017 - FL)

William Roberts, II, a/k/a Rick Ross and Andrew Harr v. Stefan Kendal Gordy, Skyler Austen Gorday

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

William L. Roberts II, Andrew Harr, and Jermaine Jackson (collectively “Appellants”), who are artists in the hip-hop industry, appeal the dismissal of their copyright infringement case. On appeal, they argue that their copyright registrations were improperly invalidated under 17 U.S.C. § 411 without a showing of scienter and that they made a proper showing of copyright ownership. Appellees counter... More...   $0 (12-15-2017 - FL)

United States of America v. Alfredo Castaneda-Pozo

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

Alfredo Castaneda-Pozo appeals from his sentence of 63 months’
Case: 16-16031 Date Filed: 12/19/2017 Page: 1 of 7
imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release, along with $429,044.96 in restitution, after he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and ten counts of bank fraud, in violation of... More...
   $0 (12-22-2017 - FL)

United States of America v. Jean Oscar, a/ki/a ZB, Hypico Beaulieu, a/k/a Pico, a/k/a Dred

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

Defendant Hypico Beaulieu appeals his six criminal convictions and his sentence, all related to drug trafficking and the illegal possession of firearms. Co-defendant Jean Oscar appeals his two convictions for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm on two different dates. Their appeals present five issues, implicating the lengthy investigation that led to their arrests and their joint c... More...   $0 (12-22-2017 - FL)

James Tracy v. Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees, et al.

Southern District of Florida Courthouse - Miami, Florida

Miami, FL - Jury Finds For Defendants In Free Speech Case

James Tracy sued Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees and others on civil rights violations theories claiming that he was fired in retaliation for blogging that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax. He claimed that he was punished for exercising his First Amendment right of free speech.

Tracy was a communications ... More...
   $0 (12-12-2017 - FL)

Michael J. Giles v. State of Florida

Leon County Courthouse - Tallahassee, Florida

Appellant Michael J. Giles challenges the denial of his motion for postconviction relief alleging several grounds of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. The only claim at issue in this appeal is that counsel was ineffective for advising Appellant not to testify, despite the court’s offer to allow him to do so, after the court permitted the State to introduce as rebuttal a recorded i... More...
   $0 (11-21-2017 - FL)


Jacksonville man gets off Death Row after judge finds original lawyer was ineffective

In 1998, Morrison was convicted of “first-degree murder for the January 8,
1997, killing of Albert Dwelle, which occurred during the course of a robbery upon
Dwelle in his apartment in Duval County,” and “armed robbery with a deadly
weapon and burglary of a dwelling with intent to commit a battery, with an assault
or battery on Dwelle.” Morrison v. State, 818 So. 2d 432, 437 (... More...
   $0 (11-18-2017 - FL)


Darrius Montgomery, seventeen years old at the time he committed his offenses,
was convicted of attempted robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm,
aggravated battery with a firearm, and attempted felony murder with a firearm. On each
count, the jury found that he discharged a firearm resulting in great bodily harm but not
death. Montgomery was later sentence... More...
   $0 (11-13-2017 - FL)


Appellant moved to withdraw his plea after sentencing. The trial court ordered an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether his counsel misadvised him regarding the strength of his case. Nevertheless, the court refused to appoint counsel to represent him at the evidentiary hearing. On appeal from the denial of the motion to withdraw his plea, appellant argues that the failure to appoint couns... More...   $0 (11-13-2017 - FL)


Appellant rammed his vehicle through a security gate and entered Port Everglades. A fifteen-minute police chase ensued, during which Appellant ran a red light, drove over sidewalks, crossed over medians, jumped over curbs, and zig-zagged across roads. At one point, Appellant crossed four lanes of traffic, nearly hitting two civilian vehicles. Appellant was eventually forced off the road by poli... More...   $0 (11-13-2017 - FL)


The State seeks review of a postconviction order declaring unconstitutional two life sentences for the crimes of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder which Kevin Ratliff committed when he was a juvenile. The postconviction court granted relief under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), as interpreted in Atwell v. State, 197 So. 3d 104... More...   $0 (11-12-2017 - FL)


Tippy McCullough stole a 2013 Cadillac XTS out of a car wash in Manatee
County. McCullough's theft precipitated a high-speed police chase, during which she
struck—and caused the death of—a bicyclist. She now appeals her judgment and
sentences after entering an open plea of no contest to leaving the scene of a crash with
death, fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer caus... More...
   $0 (11-12-2017 - FL)

Michael Frank Burgess v. United States of America

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

Efficiency can be a virtue, particularly for a court. But sometimes we can have too much of even a good thing.1 That’s what happened here. In this case, Petitioner-Appellant Michael Frank Burgess filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion challenging his conviction and sentence. Although the government opposed Burgess’s motion on the merits, the district court instead, and of its own volition, invoked a coll... More...   $0 (11-06-2017 - FL)

Technology Training Associates, Inc. v. Buccaneers Limited Partnership

Middle District of Florida Federal Courthouse - Tampa, Florida

In 2013 Cin-Q Automobiles, Inc., filed a complaint on behalf of a putative class, alleging that Buccaneers Limited Partnership was responsible for unsolicited faxes that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227. (See Below) The two sides litigated that case, which we will call the Cin-Q case, for three years, with Medical & Chiropractic Clinic, Inc., eventually joining as a ... More...   $0 (10-31-2017 - FL)

John Casserly v. The City of Delray Beach

Palm Beach County Courthouse - West Palm Beach, Florida

The plaintiff appeals from the circuit court’s final order granting the City’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleged, in sum, that the City’s negligence in failing to repair or warn against a pothole in the City’s street caused him injuries when he tripped over the pothole while rollerblading in the street. The circuit court reasoned th... More...   $0 (10-02-2017 - FL)

Nam Dang v. Sheriff, Seminole County, Florida

Middle District of Florida Federal Courthouse - Tampa, Florida

Nam Dang’s health deteriorated while he was a pretrial detainee in the John E. Polk Correctional Facility (the “Jail”). Ultimately, Dang was diagnosed with meningitis, which caused him to suffer multiple strokes resulting in permanent injuries. Dang alleges § 1983 liability against several health care providers for providing inadequate medical care while Dang was in Jail and Seminole County Sherif... More...   $0 (10-01-2017 - FL)

Thomas Larsen v. Citibank, FSB

Southern District of Florida Federal Courthouse - Miami, Florida

Plaintiff David Johnson filed a putative class-action suit against Defendant KeyBank National Association in 2010, alleging that KeyBank improperly manipulated the order of debit card transactions in customer accounts in order to maximize collection of overdraft fees. This appeal relates not to the substance of Johnson’s suit but to the enforceability of an arbitration provision contained in the a... More...   $0 (10-01-2017 - FL)

United States of America v. Larry L. Masino and Dixie L. Masino

Eleventh Circuit - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

We must decide whether an indictment that alleges that a business was in violation of the Florida bingo and gambling house statutes, Fla. Stat. §§ 849.01, 849.02, 849.03, 849.0931, sufficiently alleges one of the essential elements needed to obtain a conviction under the federal gambling statute: that the business “is a violation of” state law, 18 U.S.C. § 1955(b)(1)(i). Larry Masino and his ex-wi... More...   $0 (09-07-2017 - FL)

United States of America v. Eddy Wilmer Vail-Bailon

Eleventh Circuit - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

This appeal requires us to decide whether Florida felony battery is a crime of
violence under the Sentencing Guidelines. Defendant Eddy Wilmer Vail-Bailon
was convicted in 2014 of illegally reentering the United States, in violation of 8
U.S.C. §§ 1326(a) and (b)(1), after having been deported following a conviction
for felony battery under Florida Statute § 784.041. Base... More...
   $0 (08-25-2017 - FL)

Omega Insurance Company v. William Wallace and Joan Wallace

Omega Insurance Company seeks review of a final judgment awarding
William and Joan Wallace just over $200,000 for subsurface remediation in their
sinkhole action. The final judgment was based on a directed verdict entered after the
trial court refused to consider the testimony of Omega's expert engineers and the
- 2 -
neutral evaluator regarding the proper method of subsurface ... More...
   $0 (08-16-2017 - FL)

United States of America v. Elder Nehemias Lopez Hernandez, et al.

Eleventh Circuit - Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse - Atlanta, Georgia

The United States prosecuted these four defendants—Lopez Hernandez, Hernandez Almaraz, Aguilar Lopez, and Savala Cisneros—under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), which criminalizes an individual’s possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance “[w]hile on board a covered vessel,” which includes “a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” which in turn inc... More...   $0 (07-28-2017 - FL)

Anthony Rodriguez v. City of Doral and Juan Carlos Bermudez

“A wise man once said a true history of the world is a history of great
conversations in elegant rooms.”1 Whether or not that may be accurate, a true
history of the United States would be incomplete without a history of great
political conversations, wherever they might have occurred. And great political
conversations could not exist in the absence of the First Amendment. So the Fi... More...
   $0 (07-19-2017 - FL)




Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder and evidence tampering, and
was sentenced to death for the first-degree murder of his 64-year-old stepfather,
Roy Andrews, after Peterson’s jury recommended death by a vote of seven to five.
Peterson, 94 So. 3d at 519, 523. The facts of Peterson’s crime are set forth in this
Court’s opinion affirming his conviction and sentences o... More...
   $0 (07-07-2017 - FL)


800(a) motion, where he alleged that his sentence is unconstitutional under Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). We affirm, because Rogers has not shown a violation of the Eighth Amendment under Graham.

In 1972, Rogers was convicted of robbery, an offense he committed at the age of seventeen. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. After spending seven ye... More...
   $0 (07-06-2017 - FL)


This Petition for Writ of Prohibition is a sequel to a series of pleadings filed by Clifton Cornelius invoking his right to a speedy trial and seeking discharge from the criminal charges pending against him.1 Although Cornelius, like other criminal
1 A writ of prohibition is an appropriate remedy to address alleged speedy trial violations. See She... More...
   $0 (07-06-2017 - FL)

The State v. Demario Monte Thompson


A Lancaster County grand jury indicted Thompson for first-degree burglary and attempted murder based on allegations he broke into Keasia Drafton's apartment and tried to kill her on July 2, 2014.1 Before trial, Thompson moved to suppress a trespass notice letter stating he was banned from the apartment complex where Drafton lived. Thompson argued (1) the letter was irrelevant, (2) the letter pres... More...   $0 (06-19-2017 - FL)


Thomas Byrd appeals his conviction and sentence for one count of first degree murder and one count of armed robbery. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court reversibly erred by: (1) allowing the State to introduce a co-defendant’s recorded statement to rebut Appellant’s alibi witness; (2) admitting certain cell-phone records into evidence; and (3) prohibiting the defense from cross exami... More...   $0 (06-19-2017 - FL)



On June 25, 1996, Michael Zack was indicted for the sexual assault,
robbery, and first-degree murder of Ravonne Smith. We described the facts of the
case on direct appeal as follows:
Although the murder of Smith took place on June 13, 1996, the chain of events which culminated in this murder began on June 4, 1996, when Edith Pope (Pope), a bartender in Tallahassee, lent her car t... More...
   $0 (06-18-2017 - FL)



In 2007, Braddy was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree
murder, two counts of kidnapping, burglary of a structure with an assault or battery
therein, child neglect causing great bodily harm, and attempted escape. Braddy v.
State, 111 So. 3d 810, 826 (Fla. 2012). On appeal, this Court set out the facts of
the crimes:
The evidence presented at Braddy’s... More...
   $0 (06-18-2017 - FL)


Ulysses Taylor appeals the judgments and sentences imposed following a jury verdict finding him guilty of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting officers with violence. Mr. Taylor asserts seven claims of error by the trial court. After review, we find no reversible error and affirm. We write to discuss the issues created by the State's request to amend the charging information after... More...   $0 (06-05-2017 - FL)


Sex Offender

Dowd first challenges the trial court's order denying his motion to suppress the post-Miranda1 statements he made to sheriff's detectives. Dowd argues the totality of the circumstances demonstrate the statements are the product of coercive police tactics designed to extract an involuntary confession. We disagree. When a defendant alleges his statement is the product of police coercion, courts m... More...   $0 (06-05-2017 - FL)


In May 2015, appellant had an altercation with the victim outside of the victim’s home. According to the victim, appellant came from across the street and started screaming at him, accusing him of either selling or giving drugs to a present third person. The victim claimed that appellant grabbed him, threw him into the bushes, and broke his jaw by hitting him in the face.

Victim did ... More...
   $0 (06-04-2017 - FL)

Theresa Graham v. R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al.

This appeal presents the questions whether due process forbids giving a
jury’s findings of negligence and strict liability in a class action against cigarette
manufacturers preclusive effect in a later individual suit by a class member and, if
not, whether federal law preempts the jury’s findings. Florida smokers and their
survivors filed a class action against several tobacco comp... More...
   $0 (05-18-2017 - FL)

Victoria Swanagan a/k/a Victoria P. Swanagan v. State of Mississippi

At trial, Derrick Sims testified that he and Vincent P. Hill worked together. When
Sims arrived at SwanaganÕs home to pick up Hill for work, he heard Swanagan and Hill
arguing in her house. Swanagan exited her house and went next door to her motherÕs house.
During that time, Hill stayed inside SwanaganÕs house. When Swanagan returned, Sims
heard a Òruckus.Ó After a while, Hill cam... More...
   $0 (05-24-2017 - FL)

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