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Legislation advanced making knowingly spread HIV through sex without partner’s knowledge a capital crime

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Roughly 34 years after the discovery of the virus that causes AIDS, Florida’s lawmakers are considering legislation whose maximum sentence would be death to knowingly spread the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, to a sexual partner without their knowledge, according to a committee that voted favorably Monday in regard to the measure. The bill, HB 165, sponsored by Florida Rep. Kionne McGhee, would expand a current law already on the books in the Sunshine State making it a crime to…

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Florida Supreme Court declines to hear Tampa General malpractice case

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The Florida Supreme Court decided not to weigh in on a case between Tampa General Hospital and the estate of Annie Godwin, who died while undergoing surgery performed by University of South Florida physicians in 2009. Godwin died of blood loss during an operation to remove a cancerous tumor after a large vein was torn during surgery. After her death, Godwin’s estate sued Tampa General, USF and the physicians performing the procedure. The malpractice lawsuit centers around whether Tampa General…

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Florida Supreme Court rules sex is sex, no matter who’s doing it

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A law that requires someone with HIV to notify a potential sex partner beforehand applies to same-sex relationships as well as between a man and a woman, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously decided Thursday. The defendant, Gary Debaun, has been trying to have a charge dismissed under a 1986 state law designed to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus. Debaun is HIV-positive, according to records. The case, argued last February, involved the definition of “sexual intercourse.” In 2011, Debaun, a man, lied to…

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Rick Scott signs death penalty fix into law

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Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation Monday requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed. Lawmakers passed the bill out of the House and Senate last week, rushing the measure through the process in hopes of fixing the state’s death penalty law. The House voted 112-3 to approve the measure Friday, one day after the Senate voted unanimously to approve it. The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016 declared the state’s death penalty was unconstitutional because it…

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Supreme Court case reporting bill passed by House

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stacks of files and paperwork

A bill requiring the state Supreme Court to produce a yearly report on how many cases it’s finishing with opinions got the thumbs up from the Florida House on Friday. The legislation (HB 301), which has an identical companion in the Senate, was approved 78-37. The bill, by Republican state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, would require the court to tally in detail “each case on the court’s docket … for which a decision or disposition has not been rendered within…

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Florida tries again to fix death-penalty law

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Florida lawmakers are trying for the second year in a row to fix the state’s death penalty law. The Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to require a unanimous jury decision to impose the death penalty. The House is also prepared for a vote on the issue. It could be the first major bill sent to Gov. Rick Scott this year. The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016 declared the state’s death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much…

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Smoker’s widow fights for multimillion-dollar jury award

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A lawyer for the widow of a Florida man “addict(ed) to cigarettes” asked the state Supreme Court Monday to reinstate her $30 million jury award for punitive damages. Tallahassee attorney John S. Mills, who represents Joan Schoeff, told the court the conduct of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.(RJR)—in selling a product they knew was killing 500,000 people a year—stopped just short of “intentional genocide.” Mills called RJR “the worst of the worst,” saying the cigarette maker was aware their customers “were going to die and continued (selling cigarettes)…

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