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RECENT RELEASES - FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
CRIMINAL LAW--MURDER--EVIDENCE--PERPETUATED TESTIMONY. Because of serious health problems that rendered defendant's mother, a material prosecution witness, unable to travel to testify at defendant's trial, the court granted the State's motion to perpetuate her testimony pursuant to rule 3.190(i). At the time of the testimony, the location in which the witness was testifying and the courtroom in which the defense counsel, prosecutor, judge, and defendant were present were connected remotely by audio-visual equipment. It was clear from the record that the setup of the audio-visual equipment prevented the defendant's mother from seeing the defendant while she testified. Rule 3.190(i)(3) requires that the defendant be in the witness's "presence," and the Court held that "compliance with this rule requires that the defendant and the testifying witness be able to see each other during the examination." Accordingly, it was an abuse of discretion to admit the video recording of this testimony at defendant's trial. The state cannot demonstrate that the error in admitting the testimony was harmless because there is a reasonable possibility that the material testimony of defendant's mother contributed to the jury's guilty verdicts.
FAMILY LAW RULES OF PROCEDURE--AMENDMENT--FORMS--CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES WORKSHEET. The Court adopted amendments to Form 12.902(e) (Child Support Guidelines Worksheet). The amendments become effective April 1, 2022.
CRIMINAL LAW--MURDER--DISCOVERY--STATE'S FAILURE TO COMPLY--CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANTS. The Court held that the State's failure to disclose, pre-trial, that one of its key witnesses in a murder trial had served as a confidential informant against another of the state's key witnesses constituted a Brady violation. The undisclosed evidence, which would have allowed the defendant to impeach the informant witness on a new source of potential bias, was material, and the nondisclosure entitled the defendant to a new trial.