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Supreme Court suspends judge considered by House impeachment panel

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A North Florida judge used as an example by a House panel looking into impeachment of public officials has been suspended for six months by the Florida Supreme Court. The court’s 46-page decision, released Thursday, also orders 3rd Circuit Judge Andrew Decker to get a public reprimand and pay investigative costs. A judicial misconduct hearing panel had recommended the same, but only a 90-day suspension. Decker had been under investigation for three years for alleged attorney-ethical lapses before he was elected a judge in 2012. State…

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Judicial term limits, death penalty bills clear final House committee votes

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Bills that would require unanimous jury votes to impose the death penalty, and ask voters whether to impose term limits on appellate judges, were headed to the House floor following their approval Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee. The death penalty bill attracted a single “no” vote, and that was from Democrat Joe Geller, who said he would never again support any proposal that would “keep the horror of a death penalty.” The judicial term limits bill passed on a vote of 11-8.…

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Florida prosecutors can seek death penalty despite questions

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Florida prosecutors can seek the death penalty in ongoing cases despite a state Supreme Court ruling that found a new death penalty law unconstitutional. The court ruled Monday that the death penalty can be applied as long as there is a unanimous jury recommendation. The court ruled last October that a new state law requiring at least a 10-2 jury recommendation is unconstitutional. But Monday it said other aspects of the law are constitutional and prosecutors can proceed in capital…

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Bar exam board seeking two lawyer members

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The organization responsible for writing the state’s bar examination is looking for two good lawyers. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has two openings for attorney-members, it said in a Monday news release. Applicants have to be “practicing lawyers with scholarly attainments” and must have been a member of The Florida Bar for at least five years. Sorry, judges and law professors are ineligible. Members have to “attend approximately ten meetings a year in various Florida locations, be willing and able to devote…

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Florida abortion waiting period law temporarily blocked

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A state Supreme Court order blocking enforcement of Florida’s 24-hour abortion waiting period will remain in place while a lower court determines whether the law is constitutional. The Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling Thursday, leaving in place its order from 10 months ago. The court said there’s a strong likelihood that a lower court will determine the law is unconstitutional and the state provided no evidence that the law addresses a compelling state interest. Gov. Rick Scott signed the…

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Supreme Court limits information insurers may demand under PIP policies

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The Florida Supreme Court has taken a narrow view of the amount of evidence hospitals and other health care providers are obliged to turn over to insurance companies concerning the reasonableness of personal injury protection claims. In a unanimous ruling, the court sided with the 1st District Court of Appeal over the 4th District Court of Appeal, which had issued conflicting interpretations of Florida’s PIP statute. “We conclude that discovery is limited to the production of a written report of…

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Supreme Court rejects evidence standard supported by Rick Scott, lawmakers

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In yet another rejection of a policy backed by conservative lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Supreme Court Thursday “declined” to change the state’s expert evidence rule to one used by federal courts and most states. “We decline to adopt the Daubert Amendment to the extent that it is procedural, due to the constitutional concerns raised, which must be left for a proper case or controversy,” said the majority opinion by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and…

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