Last month, a stay of execution was granted to Manuel Valle that arranged a review of the lethal injection protocol, prolonging Valle’s time on death row. Valle voiced concerns about the new lethal injection drug, pentobarbital.
Valle’s criminal defense lawyer argued that pentobarbital would subject him to substantial harm, which resulted in the postponing of his death sentence. Earlier this week, The Florida Supreme Court lifted the temporary stay and found the use of pentobarbital constitutional.
A news release from Attorney General Pam Bondi stated that “The Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed the circuit court’s denial of postconviction relief and stated that no motion of rehearing would be entertained.”
The Googling phenomenon is hard to escape; if you’re not sure what a word means, you Google it. If you want to find out who someone is, you Google him/her. When called to serve jury duty, some may find it second nature to look up facts or definitions in relation to the trial they are serving on. In most cases, if anyone on the jury is found to be Googling, a mistrial may be declared and the case could be tossed.
This is not uncommon. In 2009, a mistrial was declared in a large federal drug trial in Florida when nine jurors admitted to doing research on the Internet. The mistrial resulted in eight weeks of hard work by criminal defense attorneys and federal prosecutors being thrown out.
An article from The Star referenced a first-degree murder trial in Maryland where the jury Googled and discovered two articles referencing body temperature after death. After refusing to declare a mistrial, the murder conviction was later tossed out by an appeals court.
As it may come as second nature to tweet, Google, blog, post or text anything these days, leaving this habit on the steps outside of the courtroom is a good idea. Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law making it a misdemeanor for a juror to willfully disobey “a court admonishment related to the prohibition on any form of communication or research about the case, including all forms of electronic or wireless communication or research.”
Over the years, many trials have resulted in what is being called a “Mistrial by Google”, wasting time and money for all parties involved. With California’s recent action, it may not be long until other states adopt similar laws. So next time you are sitting on a jury, think twice before you let your urge to Google takeover, as it could not only result in a mistrial, but could land you in a jail cell as well.
The jury selection process has begun for a Pinellas County man accused of killing his wife over 10 years ago. Robert Temple is facing first-degree murder charges and has announced that he will be representing himself in court.
With such serious accusations and convictions at stake, Temple is making a very bold move by deciding to act as his own attorney. Temple has no legal background, but according to a TBO article, he is finding encouragement from the recent acquittal of Casey Anthony.
“Nobody believed Casey Anthony, and I see she got found not guilty,” Temple said. “It’s a matter of what the proof shows, and I believe I have enough proof to show I didn’t kill my wife.”
It is not completely surprising that Temple finds encouragement from the Casey Anthony case, but it does seem unreasonable that he is going at this alone. Having the expertise of a criminal defense attorney is certainly one of the key components that helped make Casey Anthony’s case. Although evidence is the major piece of the puzzle, the knowledge and experience that a defense attorney would provide is essential.
Temple has many forces working against him in this case; no attorney, a “forged” confession document, and his ex-girlfriend, who allegedly helped clean up the murder scene, is testifying against him. Will Robert Temple do himself justice or will he end up regretting the decision to act as his own attorney?
I am honored to have received a personalized letter of thanks for the second year in a row from the Bar President in regards to my time and efforts spent with the Criminal Law Certification Committee. I feel privileged enough to be able to serve as chair of a Committee, which, as Mayanne Downs put it, “Our committees have always been the grassroots of our existence.” To receive personalized thank-you letters makes the experience even more rewarding.
For those who serve along side me on the Bar Committee, I’d like to thank you for a great year as well. I look forward to what is to come and appreciate all of the hours we have spent together devoted to the Board Certification Program. I am confident that the future will be great, if not better, than the past two years thanks to Presidents Mayanne Downs and Jesse H. Diner.
Tyler Hadley, 17-year-old male from Port St. Lucie, Florida has been accused of murdering his parents, Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley. Hadley allegedly bludgeoned his parents to death with a hammer Saturday night before throwing a party where 40-60 teens attended as guests.
Hadley was appointed a public defender before facing a judge from St. Lucie County Jail, in Fort Pierce, via closed circuit camera. He was first charged with two counts of first-degree murder which have now been reduced to second-degree. No reason has been given as to what Hadley’s motive was or why the charges were dropped from first-degree murder to second. See the story from WSVN News.
First-degree murder is considered premeditated while second-degree is categorized as a crime of passion. Given the murder weapon, and the events that took place afterwards, it’s hard not to wonder, why the drop in charges? Was there a fight between the parents and Hadley prior? Is it because of the suspect’s age? There are many questions to consider, and this is only a few days after the incident. It will be interesting to see what approach the criminal defense lawyer takes in this case. We don’t know much but this is certainly a case to watch as more develops.
In the state of Florida, if you are driving under the influence and have a blood/breath alcohol level of .08 or higher you will be charged with a DUI. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the penalties upon conviction are the same but depending on certain factors such as prior convictions or if there was a minor in the car, the suspect will face heavier consequences.
Referenced from the Department of Highway and Safety and Motor Vehicles, here is an outline of the consequences and suspension laws for a DUI in Florida.
-50 hours of community service is mandatory; you can either complete the community service or pay $10 for every hour that is required.
-Probation (should not exceed a year).
-You will not face more than 6 months jail time.
-Your license will be suspended anywhere from 180 days to a year.
-Mandatory DUI school before hardship reinstatement.
-Your car will be impounded 10 days.
If it is your first offense AND you have a BAL of .15 or higher or have a minor in the car your sanctions will worsen. Your fines will increase to $1,000-$2,000 and you could face up to 9 months in jail.
-You will not face more than 9 months of jail time.
-If it is within 5 years of prior offense, license will be suspended for 5 years.
-Mandatory DUI school.
-Your car will be impounded for 30 days.
If you have a BAL of .15 or higher or a minor is present, your fines increase to $2,000-$4,000 and you can face up to 12 months in jail.
-You will face at least 30 days of jail time but no more than 12 months.
-If it is within 10 years of prior offense, license will be suspended for 10 years.
-Mandatory DUI school.
-Your car will be impounded for 90 days.
Again, if you have a BAL of .15 or higher or a minor is present, your fines increase to no less than $4,000.
The most important thing you can do after receiving a DUI is to contact a criminal defense attorney. Hillsborough County is one of Florida’s most active counties in cracking down on drunk drivers. Generally speaking, if you are pulled over for DUI questioning, you will be arrested. Unfortunately you must pay the price, but having a Tampa defense attorney present throughout your process will ensure that you are making the right decisions as you go forward. A Board-Certified attorney should know the DUI laws like the back of their hand, so they will be able to educate you on what happens next.
There are many mistakes made before and after an arrest is made, the biggest behind breaking the law is making statements to law enforcement without a lawyer present. In this video found on my YouTube channel, you will find a sample of the advice I would give to you if I was your criminal defense attorney.
“The singular biggest mistake that everyone makes is they make statements to the police in the hopes of making their situation better and all they’ve done is hurt themselves.”
Although it is hard not to make any statements during this process, remember that anything you say will be used against you in the court of law.
The media plays an influential role in our life everyday, but will it play a role in the outcome of the very publicized Casey Anthony case?
Anthony is accused of murdering her two year old daughter in Orlando. A very public search was conducted to find the “missing” girl, who’s remains were found months later and fingers were pointed at mother Casey Anthony.
According to Anthony’s defense attorney Jose Baez, the standard microphones that are found in every courtroom are picking up private conversations between Anthony and Baez. Under the legal process, all conversations between the defendant and lawyer should be private. Baez requested that all the microphones to be removed excluding the Judge’s and the juror’s.
Judge Belvin Perry took many steps to make sure that the media was not an influence on the juror’s decision. Jurors pulled from Pinellas County were questioned more specifically about what they had heard about the case and how they felt about the death penalty. Perry decided to pull jurors from Pinellas County because the media coverage was not as extreme.
According to an article from the St. Pete Times, Jonathan Green really didn’t want to have jury duty. Green was fined $450 for contempt of court when he admitted to talking about the case to someone else. Green said, “I just wanted to get out of jury duty.” It is almost hard to blame Pinellas County citizens to not want to be a juror for this case. The jurors are expected to be in the Orlando courtroom everyday for 6-8weeks.