The founder of the ”Girls Gone Wild” empire, Joe Francis, pleaded no contest to charges of child abuse and prostitution in Panama City under an agreement that allowed him to walk free after nearly a year in jail. The hearing in Bay County State Court resolved a 2003 case involving the filming of under-age girls. Mr. Francis, 34, said he pleaded guilty ”just to get out of jail.” He pleaded no contest to one count of felony child abuse and two counts of misdemeanor prostitution. Full Story: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A06E3DF1430F930A25750C0A96E9C8B63&scp=4&sq=%22girls+gone+wild%22&st=nyt
Thousands of sick smokers in Florida could be eligible for money from a $600 million fund in a landmark Miami-Dade County case against the country’s five largest tobacco companies.Tobacco companies agreed to create the trust fund in 2001 to avoid posting a bond as they appealed a Miami-Dade jury’s July 2000 verdict. The jury awarded ill smokers and their families $145 billion, which was thought to be the biggest punitive award in American legal history. Whether the tobacco companies won or lost their appeals, the money placed in the trust fund was set aside for sick smokers covered under the class-action case and their attorneys’ fees.The Florida Supreme Court threw out the jury’s verdict in 2006, deeming it excessive.To be eligible for money from the trust fund, a smoker must have been a Florida resident before or on Nov. 21, 1996 and be able to document having symptoms of a cigarette-related illness before that date. Families of deceased smokers can put in claims for the money if their loved ones met the requirements, but there can only be one claim per smoker. Full Story http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-flbsmokers0422sbapr22,0,1700805.story
The Florida Senate on Thursday passed an amendment to impose a $60 fine on Truck Nutz, one brand name for the novelty item on vehicle trailer hitches that resemble the dangling southern end of a northbound bull.
The proposal would make displaying bull genitalia reproductions on a vehicle subject to a $60 fine, moving violations and points against a driver license. The penalties were proposed by Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis. Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, said he had a set on one of his vehicles, which he described as “all pimped out.” They are no more than “an expression of truckliness,” he said, although he’d acceded to his wife’s request to take them off. “I find it shocking we’d tell people with metallic testicles on their bumpers that this is a violation,” said Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale. “There’s got to be better things for us to spend time debating.” Geller suggested this ban might be followed by prohibiting silhouettes of nude women on truck mud flaps.
“We’re basically going to have the bumper police,” King said. “All their concerns are legitimate,” Baker said of the critics. “And I do have more important things to do this session. But I think this is important, too.” The transportation bill was debated Thursday, and a vote is expected next week. The House version, however, doesn’t include the prohibition.
From the St. Petersburg Times: Raoul G. Cantero III, Florida’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, announced his resignation Friday [April 11], giving Gov. Charlie Crist the first of three appointments that will allow him to reshape the Florida Supreme Court. One of the high court’s two most conservative judges, Cantero, 47, cited personal reasons for stepping down effective Sept. 6, six years after joining the court. Cantero has told friends that his family, including his wife, Ani, and three children, are homesick and want to return to Miami. He told the St. Petersburg Times that his 13-year-old daughter recently had a benign tumor removed. Cantero said he and his wife started to discuss his resignation a few weeks ago, and he chose this week because the court had a light oral argument schedule. http://www.tampabay.com,
The guns-at-work bill is on its way to the governor — who said he’s likely to sign it — after the Senate passed it Wednesday with little debate and a 26-13 vote. I’m probably gonna sign it,” Crist said afterward. “The 2nd Amendment is very important.” The governor acknowledged the intense lobbying war that preceded the bill’s passage, but added “people being protected, that’s very important to me.” Both sides, meanwhile, went into action almost immediately, urging their supporters to contact Crist with their opinions.The Florida Retail Federation, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce both opposed the bill, while support came from the NRA and other pro-gun groups…. The bill says that employees who have a concealed weapons permit can keep a gun locked in their trunks at work, even if the employer wants to ban guns on the property — something that opponents said ran contrary to private property rights. The bill also provide several exceptions, allowing defense and military contractors, corrections facilities and schools to continue to ban the weapons.
Tallahassee Democrat, editorial, http://www.tallahassee.com, March 30, 2008.The editorial states: “Florida’s state court system is already a lean, hardworking justice machine. It operates with roughly half as many trial judges per citizen as other large states — 4.5 judges per 100,000 citizens compared with Texas with 10, for example, or the national average of 7.3 judges. A point of pride, however, is that our court system ranks near the top of the states in terms of clearing cases quickly and opinions issued per justice. Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Lewis says much of this is due to an efficient system of top-quality paralegals and judicial assistants who keep the judges judging and the paperwork orderly and flowing. . . . A 10-percent slice of the judicial budget could be more painful than with many other agencies because it starts out with just a sliver of the state’s $70 billion budget. The state courts system consumes just 0.7 percent of the total, compared, for example, with education at 31 percent. Cutting 10 percent of a $483 million budget for one entire branch of government is dire, especially when 80 percent of that goes to the 20 circuit courts.”