Legal Updates

WATER WAR The U.S. Supreme Court has given Florida a victory in the decades-long legal fight with Georgia over the diversion of water from the Apalachicola River. The special master appointed by the Court ruled in Georgia’s favor based primarily on the fact that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were not a party to the suit. The Court ruled 5-4 that Florida had presented evidence that increased water flow would contribute to the betterment of Apalachicola Bay. The ruling sends the case back to the special master.

JUDICIAL VACANCY The Florida Supreme Court has granted a Jacksonville attorney’s request denying Governor Scott the opportunity to fill a soon to be vacated circuit court judgeship. The current judge is retiring effective December 31st. The Governor wants to fill the vacancy after the judge’s retirement, However, the attorney seeking the seat claims in a lawsuit that the anticipated vacancy should be filled in the November election cycle.

INDIAN GAMING TAXES The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that members of the Miccosukee Indian Tribe who receive per-capita distributions from the Tribe’s gaming revenue is subject to federal income taxes. The Court based its decision under the 1988 Indian Gaming Revenue Act.

FSU MURDERER APPEAL REJECTED A former Florida State University student convicted of manslaughter in the 2011 in the shooting death of another student has had his appeal rejected by Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal. Based upon testimony from his former attorneys, the Court ruled he had been advised of a plea deal, which he rejected. The student claimed his attorneys provided ineffective assistance for his defense.

SMOKING MEDICAL MARIJUANA The continuing battle over the right to smoke medical marijuana has had a couple more twists. After a Leon County circuit judge ruled in favor of smoking medical marijuana, she issued a stay of the order based upon the State’s appeal of her ruling. Later, she lifted the stay order after another hearing, prompting the State to appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. A three-member panel overturned her stay decision and indicated that the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed in their case based upon the Court’s review of Florida law. They also rejected the request to fast track the case to Florida’s Supreme Court.