Posts

Florida Supreme Court Opinion is Anti-Self-Defense

Judicial activism is alive and flourishing on the Florida Supreme Court.  The victims of this activism is the Second Amendment and citizens of the Sunshine State’s fundamental right of self-defense.

On Thursday, July 9, 2015, liberals on the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion in a self-defense case that clearly has a chilling effect on the constitutional right of self-defense and the immunity from prosecution for exercising self-defense provided by the Legislature in the “Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground” law.  The presumption of innocence until proven guilty has been turned on its head.

Rather than follow the intent of the Legislature, the Court chose to rewrite the law to achieve its own policy goals.

In the Opinion Justice Pariente, who was joined by Justices Labarga, Quince, Perry and Lewis, defiantly said:

“We conclude that placing the burden of proof on the defendant to establish entitlement to Stand Your Ground immunity by a preponderance of the evidence at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, rather than on the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s use of force was not justified, is consistent with this Court’s precedent and gives effect to the legislative intent.”

In a dissenting opinion in which Justice Ricky Poltson concurred, Justice Charles Canady correctly wrote:

“By imposing the burden of proof on the defendant at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, the majority substantially curtails the benefit of the immunity from trial conferred by the Legislature under the Stand Your Ground law.”

The entire majority opinion and the dissenting opinion is here:

“By imposing the burden of proof on the defendant at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, the majority substantially curtails the benefit of the immunity from trial conferred by the Legislature under the Stand Your Ground law.”

The entire majority opinion and the dissenting opinion is here:

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2015/sc13-2312.pdf

Below is a link to an example of how others see this opinion:

Here’s What the Legislature Should Do After Bretherick by Greg Newburn, FAMM State Policy Director posted to FAMM.org on July 10, 2015

Smoking gun: Pinellas commissioners conceded on term limits in 2000

Philip Blumel from Florida Term Limits Blog reports:

A smoking gun has been uncovered in the Pinellas term limits case and the defendant’s’ fingerprints are all over it.

You may recall that Pinellas County Commission and constitutional officer term limits passed with 73 percent of the vote in 1996, but the county refused to insert the amendment into their charter as clearly required by the law due to its alleged constitutional ambiguity.

The county commission and the five constitutional officers sued the voters to get the amendment overturned. The district court denied them, upholding the constitutionality of the term limits.

The constitutional officers continued their suit and requested authorization to add the Pinellas County Commission to the appeal. However, the minutes of the 5/30/00 county commission meeting — uncovered via a FOIA request on behalf of plaintiffs in the ongoing case to force commissioners to comply with the law — clearly show that the Pinellas County Commission chose not to participate.

According to the above document, County Attorney Susan H. Churuti advised the commission of their options and the process of becoming appellants. But, the document says, “following discussion, Commissioner [and current defendant Karen] Seel moved, seconded by Commissioner Parks and carried, that the county commission do nothing and let the ruling stand.”

The constitutional officers went all the way to the Supreme Court, alone. This is why only constitutional officer term limits were reviewed in the split 2002 Cook decision that declared constitutional officer limits to be unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court never tackled the issue of county commission term limits until 2012 when it unanimously declared them to be constitutional. For good measure, the Supremes overturned Cook at the same time, declaring without ambiguity that charter county voters have the right to impose term limits on their public servants.

Since then, 10 of the 11 charter counties with county commission term limits are obeying the law. Most of them always did. Only Pinellas — after losing at the district level and then at the Florida Supreme Court — continues to defy the voters and the law.

ABOUT FLORIDA TERM LIMITS BLOG

Philip Blumel is president of U.S. Term Limits, a single-issue advocacy group based in Fairfax, VA, and a certified financial planner working out of downtown West Palm Beach, FL.

Pinellas County Commissioners defy voter-approved term limits

Of the 20 charter counties in Florida, voters in 11 have overwhelmingly approved term limits for their county commissions. Ten of them recognize and respect the law.

The exception is Pinellas County.

In 1996, 73 percent of voters in Pinellas approved a countywide referendum that limited their county commissioners and county constitutional officers to eight years in office. Since then, a split Florida Supreme Court in Cook (2002) decided that counties don’t have the right to impose term limits on constitutional officers. But the Pinellas County commission decided the Cook decision applied to them as well even though the Supreme Court never ruled on commissioner limits in Cook or any other decision.

Until this year. In May, the Supreme Court not only clearly affirmed the constitutionality of county commissioner term limits, but also overturned its previous ruling in Cook regarding constitutional officers.

There is no longer any question whatever about the legality of county term limits in the state of Florida. Sarasota County – the only other county that was defying their voter-approved term limits law – accepted the Supreme Court decision and is now enforcing their popular 8-year term limits.

And yet, the Pinellas county commissioners continue to claim the law does not apply to them. The commissioners do not believe this is true. They simply want to keep their well-paid positions of power and are willing to brazenly defy the law – overwhelmingly approved by the people — in order to keep them.

In Pinellas County, 8-year term limits are currently in the charter. It was never amended to remove them. There is no court ruling that nullified the county commission term limits. On the contrary, there is now a Florida Supreme Court ruling explicitly affirming them.

It is not as if the voters are calling for their repeal. In 2009, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 79 percent of voters in the greater Bay area believe that their politicians should be term limited. Furthermore, the polling suggested that 78 percent prefer that the proper term limit is eight years and opposed longer limits.

Pinellas County commissioners should act honorably and obey the law. The four who have exceeded their legal term limit should resign before being forced to do so by the courts.