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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
February 1 - February 5, 2016

Civil Law Headnotes (Jump to Criminal Law Headnotes)

THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
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Dependent children -- Undocumented minor immigrant -- Private petition by mother of child who entered United States illegally seeking to have child declared dependent to prevent possible deportation of child by federal authorities -- Abandonment of child by father in his native country twelve years previously is not valid basis for adjudication of dependency of child who is in custody of child's mother in United States and being cared for by mother -- Risk of potential deportation by federal authorities is not a danger Florida's child protective services system is intended or designed to address
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Dissolution of marriage -- Civil contempt -- Failure to pay alimony in accordance with marital settlement agreement -- Error to order that former husband be committed to jail for failure to make required payments in the future -- Contempt order that operates prospectively, by ordering automatic commitment in the event of future noncompliance without requiring additional hearing, violates due process
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Elections -- Write-in candidate for office of county commissioner -- Statute which requires that a write-in candidate for office of county commissioner be a resident of the district represented at time of qualification is unconstitutional, as it conflicts with provision of Florida Constitution which requires residency at time of election -- Under provision of Florida Constitution that states, “If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary election for that office,” the word “opposition” includes write-in candidates -- District court properly held that Democratic Party's primary election should be closed to only Democratic-registered voters
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Insurance -- Homeowners -- Post-loss assignment of benefits -- Trial court erred in finding that insured was precluded from assigning benefits of homeowners policy to emergency water mitigation company without consent of insurer -- Language of policy merely prohibited insured's unilateral assignment of the entire policy, not a financial benefit derived from the policy -- Florida law prohibits an insurer from restricting an insured's unilateral post-loss assignment of a benefit derived from policy
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Mortgage foreclosure -- Standing -- Plaintiff failed to show that it had standing to foreclose mortgage where there was no evidence that plaintiff or its predecessors had possession of the original note, with endorsement, at the time the original complaint was filed -- Court recedes from prior decision to extent it suggests that standing may be established at the time an amended complaint is filed
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Public records -- Exemptions -- Students' education records -- Trial court did not err in denying declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief to remedy state university's purported failure to comply with request to produce information that would identify students who were subject of allegations of misconduct related to student government and/or hazing -- Education records, as defined in federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, are exempt from Florida's Public Records Law -- Student disciplinary records are “education records” subject to the protections afforded under FERPA, and there was no suggestion that the non-disclosed information fell within either of two exceptions to these protections
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Rules of Judicial Administration -- Amendments -- Court filings -- Minimization of filing of sensitive information
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Torts -- Sheriffs -- Action against sheriff for injuries sustained by plaintiff when automobile flipped after striking dead horse lying on roadway -- Duty of care -- Sheriff did not owe common law or statutory duty of care to plaintiff individually -- Public duty doctrine -- Statute providing that it shall be duty of sheriff and certain others to confine, hold, and impound livestock found to be running at large or straying does not provide civil tort remedy for breach of duty of care owed by sheriff to injured individuals, as legislature clearly provided those individuals a tort remedy against livestock owners -- Moreover, even if statute imposed duty of care on sheriff, it was general duty of care owed to public at large -- Special duty -- No special duty arose from fact that deputy had earlier responded to report of two horses roaming along roadway, one of which was the horse ultimately struck by plaintiff's vehicle, and simply reported the call cleared when, upon his arrival, the horses ran up a driveway and went back into what appeared to be a pasture -- Undertaker's doctrine -- Deputy's arrival on scene at which horses were roaming along highway did not increase any zone of risk -- Moreover, plaintiff could not have relied on deputy's undertaking because she had no contact with deputy prior to her accident and could not have known of deputy's actions
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Criminal Law Headnotes (Jump to Civil Law Headnotes)

THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
To see others not presented here, log in for more comprehensive weekly listings.

Criminal law -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Post conviction relief -- Counsel -- Ineffectiveness -- Trial court erred in denying post conviction relief based on guilt-phase counsel's failure to present testimony of facial identification expert to explain physical differences between defendant and the perpetrator alleged to have been the defendant in a video of the murders taken by a video surveillance camera installed in the home of one of the victims, and to demonstrate that the quality of the images on the video was so poor that they were inadequate to make a reliable identification -- Counsel's performance fell below standard guaranteed by Sixth Amendment -- Defendant established prejudice, given relatively weak case against him with no physical evidence linking him to crime, critical role of the identification derived from the video, and the other errors previously identified in defendant's direct appeal
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Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- Warrant -- Affidavit in support of warrant to search residence of defendant's mother for evidence relating to twelve unsolved burglaries that occurred in area within two-week period did not contain sufficient acts to establish probable cause for warrant where affidavit did not set forth dates of the “two-week period” in which burglaries had occurred, and the only information provided with regard to these burglaries were conclusory statements that the burglaries occurred in the “same general area” in which defendant was caught burglarizing a store and involved “the same modus operandi,” without further description -- Warrant which authorized seizure of “any and all burglary tools, stolen items, or any similar items pertaining to this or any other recent burglary” found on premises was constitutionally overbroad -- Good faith exception does not apply where affidavit was so lacking in inidicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence unreasonable -- Moreover, good faith exception does not apply where search warrant is so facially deficient in failing to particularize place to be searched or things to be seized that executing officers cannot reasonably presume it to be valid
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