Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
June 10, 2024 - June 14, 2024

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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Administrative law -- Medical marijuana treatment centers -- Variance -- Hearing -- Standing -- Petition for administrative hearing to challenge department's approval of variance submitted by MMTC as part of MMTC's ownership restructure, which petitioner claimed violated section 381.986(8)'s dual ownership prohibition -- Petitioner, a shareholder of MMTC's parent company, lacked standing to challenge variance because shareholder lacked a substantial interest in approval of the variance -- Claimed injury of dilution of interest in parent company does not arise from the approval of the variance request, but is instead the result of MMTC's ownership restructure -- Shareholder's claim that MMTC's ability to expand its business and provide quality products would be adversely affected is speculative -- Even if not speculative, such harm is likewise a product of the MMTC's ownership restructure rather than department's action of granting variance -- Furthermore, shareholder's claimed injuries are not the type that statute is designed to protect -- Statutory prohibition on dual ownership of MMTCs aims to regulate MMTCs and ensure qualifying patients have access, not to protect the equity interests of individual investors from business reorganizations
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Public records -- Mandamus -- Anonymous filings -- Trial court did not err in denying petitioner's request for mandamus relief related to a public records request based on conclusion that petition failed to meet requirements of rule 1.630(b)(3) because petition was filed anonymously and not in the name of the petitioner -- While certain exceptional circumstances may justify anonymity, petitioner failed to justify anonymity in instant case where petitioner failed to seek leave to file anonymously or properly present the reasons for seeking anonymity to the trial court -- Even if petition were facially valid, petitioner failed to demonstrate a claim for mandamus where petitioner's record requests were overly broad and would have required records custodian to consult with governor -- While chapter 119 does not contain a specificity requirement, a public records request must be specific enough for records custodian to perform requested action
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Real property -- Easements -- Public dedication -- Beaches and docks -- Injunction -- Limitation of actions -- Action seeking to enjoin certain subdivision property owners from excluding other property owners from using a dock which had been constructed on a community beach -- Although trial court erred in finding that action was barred by section 95.12, summary judgment entered in favor of defendant property owners is affirmed -- Community beach was intended part of public dedication which dedicated to the public “all streets, roads, and thoroughfares” in the plat where plat depicted the ocean abutting the beach with ebbs and flows and Florida beaches have historically been understood as “thoroughfares” -- Because plaintiffs did not hold title to the beach, their action was not one for the recovery of real property and section 95.12 was not applicable -- In addition, section 95.12 was inapplicable because a public easement was at issue and such easements cannot be extinguished by adverse possession -- Summary judgment was proper because action was untimely under section 95.11(2)(b)
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Torts -- Defamation -- Trade libel -- Media defendant -- Actual malice -- Punitive damages -- Amendment of complaint -- Claims based on media defendant's reporting of plaintiff's evacuation of Afghan citizens during the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan -- No error in granting plaintiff's motion for leave to amend defamation and trade libel complaint to assert claims for punitive damages -- Totality of plaintiff's proffered evidence was sufficient to show actual malice, express malice, and a level of conduct outrageous enough to open the door for plaintiff to seek punitive damages where defendant approved publication of a report claiming that plaintiff was part of a “black market” that was exploiting Afghan citizens despite internal communications raising concerns about the completeness and veracity of the reporting, displayed plaintiff's name and picture, and engaged in other internal communications showing that defendant employees harbored disdain for plaintiff
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Torts -- Legal malpractice -- Arbitration -- Award -- Vacation -- Misconduct by arbitrator prejudicing rights of parties -- Cross-appeals challenging order vacating arbitration award and successor judge's subsequent order granting reconsideration and confirming that same award -- Trial court properly granted motion to vacate arbitration award arguing that arbitrator's consideration of an unpled issue as a basis for relief was fundamentally unfair and amounted to a due process violation -- Lack of a substantive requirement that claims for relief be pled in an arbitration proceeding in a specific manner does not negate a party's right to fair and effective notice of claims to be tried -- Successor judge abused its discretion in granting reconsideration and confirming the award
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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.
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Criminal law -- Driving under influence -- Evidence -- Breath test -- Authority to administer -- Extraterritorial jurisdiction -- Color of office doctrine -- Exceptions -- Continuing investigation -- Defendant who was transported outside of city limits by a municipal police officer to a breath test facility staffed by a single civilian within the county where the city lies -- No error in granting motion to suppress breath test results based on finding that officer unlawfully asserted his official authority because he acted outside his territorial jurisdiction to obtain evidence not available to a private citizen using his or her own senses -- Discussion of the phrase “color of office” and a municipality's power to police -- A municipal police officer's powers have territorial bounds which the legislature, and only the legislature, can expand to address the needs of the state or municipalities -- Officer lacked authority to exercise his official power as a police officer when he requested the breath test and gave defendant the implied consent warning outside his territorial jurisdiction where state failed to provide evidence that legislature had passed a law granting such a power or that there was a mutual aid agreement which allowed the city to exercise authority outside of its territorial limits -- Court does not recognize court-created “continuing investigation” exception to the color of office doctrine -- Conflict certified
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Criminal law -- Evidence -- Confession -- Invocation of right to remain silent -- Trial court erred by granting motion to suppress defendant's post-Miranda confession based on determination that defendant had invoked his right to remain silent when he stated “I just don't want to say nothing” -- Discussion of what constitutes an unequivocal statement -- Defendant's statement was equivocal where defendant made a one-off statement during the interrogation that did not clearly suggest that he wished to discontinue the entire interview, statement was not made at the beginning of the substantive questioning or when being asked about whether defendant wished to talk, and defendant did not make repeated statements or clear desires to stop the discussion entirely -- Additionally, interviewing officer did not persistently and repeatedly engage in efforts to wear down defendant's resistance and make him change his mind -- Because defendant's statement was equivocal, interviewing officer was not required to stop interview or ask clarifying questions
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Criminal law -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Post conviction relief -- Newly discovered evidence -- Successive motion -- No error in summarily denying successive motion for post conviction relief alleging newly discovered evidence in the form of testimony showing alleged inaccuracies or incompleteness in defendant's presentence investigation report -- Defendant was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing where claims raised were both untimely and procedurally barred
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Criminal law -- Probation revocation -- New law violation -- Post conviction relief -- Newly discovered evidence -- Defendant charged with two new drug offenses, one of which was dismissed after seizure was found to be illegal and one which was nolle prossed by the state -- Trial court erred by denying post conviction motion alleging newly discovered evidence in the form of a suppression order entered in the dismissed criminal case which suppressed the same evidence that was used to revoke defendant's probation -- Exclusionary rule applies to probation revocation hearings -- Even if information surrounding the illegality of the search which led to the suppression order was known while the violation of probation matter was pending, the fact that defendant's motion to suppress was granted after probation was revoked was new information to defendant and counsel -- Appropriate remedy is to remand for an evidentiary hearing so that trial court can properly consider whether the same suppressed evidence was the foundation of both drug prosecutions or just one and whether the nolle prossed case could arguably constitute a new law violation in the absence of that suppressed evidence
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Criminal law -- Probation revocation -- Sentencing -- Considerations -- Victim impact statements -- Marsy's Law -- Trial court did not err by considering victim's statement from underlying offense when sentencing defendant following revocation of probation -- Court rejects argument that Marsy's Law does not apply to probation violation proceedings -- If a defendant is facing legal consequences for his criminal conduct, then the victim has the right to be heard when a court or other authority decides what those consequences will be
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