Friday, December 13, 2013

9th Circuit's Kozinski Opinion talks of ‘Epidemic of Brady violations’

"The chief judge of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is taking a stand against failure to disclose exculpatory evidence in a case involving a ricin suspect and a lab analyst who was later fired for alleged incompetence.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski highlighted the issue in a Dec. 10 dissent (PDF) to the denial of an en banc rehearing. He begins this way: “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it.” His dissent was joined by four other 9th Circuit judges."
. . . .
Kozinski argues that prosecutors are rarely penalized for Brady violations, and the panel opinion sends the wrong signal. “By turning a blind eye to this grave transgression,” he writes, “the panel has shirked its own duty and compounded the violence done to the Constitution by the Assistant U.S. Attorney.”"

Originally posted by Debra Cassens Weiss, Dec. 11, 2013, in ABA Journal News

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Attorney's fees, condominium associations, future lost profits, and grilled elk wih peppercorn, red onion, and rosemary sauce

Attorney's fees -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Non-final orders -- An order finding entitlement to attorney's fees but not setting an amount is a non-final, non-appealable order -- Appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
KLING CORPORATION, etc., et al., Appellants, vs. HOLA NETWORKS CORPORATION, etc., et al., Appellees. 3rd District.

Attorney's fees -- Prevailing party -- Administrative law -- Counties -- School boards -- Exceptional student education -- Due process hearing -- Statute providing for award of attorney's fees to prevailing party in administrative proceedings under chapter 120 does not apply to proceeding brought under section 1003.57, which is controlled by procedures outlined in section 1003.57(1)(b)
A. L., by his parent P. L. B., and P. L. B. for herself, and Rosemary N. Palmer, attorney, Appellants, v. JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, Appellee. 1st District.

Attorney's fees -- Receiverships -- Attorney for receiver -- Receiver's attorney lacked standing to pursue award of attorney's fees and costs independent of the receiver where order appointing receiver entitled the receiver, not an attorney, to seek award of attorney's fees and costs, and record reflects that no other court order was entered which would have permitted receiver's attorney to independently pursue award of attorney's fees and costs

Civil procedure -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Non-final orders -- Order granting motion for entry of default judgment as to liability only is a non-final, non-appealable order -- This type of order was expressly removed from the list of appealable non-final orders -- Appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
AMMY M. KOGAN, Appellant, vs. MICHAEL MILDENBERGER, Appellee. 3rd District.

Civil procedure -- Dismissal -- Forum non conveniens -- Error to deny motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens based on finding that parties had availed themselves of the jurisdiction of the court -- Finding of personal or subject matter jurisdiction not substitute for existence of convenient forum -- Order granting final summary judgment entered while interlocutory appeal of order denying motion to dismiss was pending also reversed
SERAFIN GARCIA ARMAS, Appellant, vs. BANCO NACIONAL DE CRÉDITO, C.A., etc., Appellee. 3rd District.

Civil procedure -- Sanctions -- Due process -- State v. Spencer, which requires trial court to provide notice and opportunity to respond before enjoining parties from filing further pro se pleadings or motions, applies to all pro se litigants, civil and criminal alike -- Error to prohibit further pro se filings in instant civil litigation without issuing show cause order and permitting reasonable time to respond

Condominiums -- Assessments -- Prior owner is jointly and severally liable with current owner for all past due assessments up to time of transfer of title -- Where condominium association foreclosed on its assessment lien and took title to property while mortgage foreclosure action was pending, mortgage foreclosure action subsequently concluded and third party purchased property at foreclosure sale, association was jointly and severally responsible with former owner back to time when title to property was transferred to former owner, and third-party purchaser at mortgage foreclosure sale was responsible for unpaid assessments back to time when association took title to subject property

Contempt -- Direct criminal -- Father's failure to comply with truancy orders requiring him to ensure daughter's attendance at school -- Truancy court judge improperly acted as judge and prosecutor -- Evidence was insufficient to establish willful noncompliance with truancy court's orders
DAVE MOYERS, Appellant, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. 2nd District.

Contempt -- Where court had entered order requiring co-owner of condominium apartment to “vacate” the unit because her occupancy violated the fifty-five and older age restriction for residents, it was error to hold the co-owner in contempt for continuing to spend several hours a day at the unit for the purpose of remodeling and gardening and staying overnight on several occasions -- Court order was ambiguous as to what was required to vacate the unit, and it was improper to hold party in contempt for violation of an ambiguous order

Contracts -- Discovery -- Trial court departed from essential requirements of law in entering order compelling defendant in breach of contract action to produce personal financial records where such records are not relevant to any issues in litigation -- Defendant's personal financial information is not relevant to his affirmative defense of plaintiff's anticipatory breach of contract because defendant is not required to establish his ability to perform under contract to be relieved of his contractual obligations based on plaintiff's anticipatory breach
JOHN M. RYAN, Petitioner, v. LANDSOURCE HOLDING COMPANY, LLC, Respondent. 2nd District.

Contracts -- Leases -- Damages -- Where lessor breached lease and constructively evicted lessee, ultimately causing the destruction of lessee's business, by failing to repair leaking roof, trial court properly found that prospective lost profits was the correct measure of damages -- Awarding market value for a business that has been slowly reduced to nothing due to defendant's breach would be inequitable -- There was no clear error in trial court's factual finding that awarding prospective lost profits beyond the initial lease term would be too speculative -- Trial court did not err in dismissing lessee's equitable foreclosure and lis pendens where lessee had no interest in underlying realty -- In awarding attorney's fees to lessee, trial court did not err in denying a contingency fee multiplier where evidence showed that any number of attorneys would have agreed to take case on an hourly or contingent basis
KATZ DELI OF AVENTURA, INC., Appellant, vs. WATERWAYS PLAZA, LLC, etc., Appellee. 3rd District.

Creditors' rights -- Supplementary proceedings -- Fraudulent transfers -- Attorney's fees -- Impleaded parties are not liable for attorney's fees and costs in proceedings supplementary -- In such proceedings, attorney's fees and costs may be awarded only against original judgment debtor -- To extent final judgment against impleaded parties purports to reserve jurisdiction to award attorney's fees and costs against the impleaded parties jointly and severally with judgment debtor, judgment is reversed -- Final judgment awarding attorney's fees and costs for proceedings supplementary reversed to extent that it purports to permit writs of execution against all of the assets of the impleaded parties, rather than solely the assets of judgment debtor now in the hands of the impleaded parties as result of fraudulent transfers

Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Modification -- Substantial change in circumstances -- Trial court abused its discretion in finding no change in circumstances warranting reduction in alimony where husband presented unrebutted evidence establishing a forty-percent drop in income from business which he owned and operated, the unavailability of additional money from the business, the lack of substantial assets to liquidate, grim job expectations, and monthly expenses which exceeded his income -- Contempt -- Finding husband was in contempt for failing to pay alimony was not supported by competent, substantial evidence
HENRY M. DRIGGERS, Appellant, v. ROBIN Y. DRIGGERS, Appellee. 2nd District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Trusts -- Trial court did not err in granting continuing writ of garnishment over any disbursements made from discretionary trusts to former husband for payment of alimony upon finding that traditional remedies for enforcement of alimony obligation were not effective -- Although trusts contained spendthrift provision, a spendthrift provision is unenforceable against a beneficiary's former spouse who has a judgment or court order against the beneficiary for support or maintenance
BRUCE D. BERLINGER, Appellant, v. ROBERTA SUE CASSELBERRY, Appellee. 2nd District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Child support -- Modification -- Foreign state support order -- Jurisdiction -- Under provisions of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, Florida court does not have jurisdiction to modify a Michigan child support order which was registered in Florida under UIFSA where Michigan no longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order; party seeking modification is a Florida resident; and opposing party is a nonresident who objects to Florida's assumption of jurisdiction -- UIFSA is not preempted by federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act -- Petition for writ of prohibition granted -- Circuit court required to refrain from exercising modification jurisdiction
JYRKI TUONO JUHANI PULKKINEN, Petitioner, v. KAREN ELAINE PULKKINEN, n/k/a Karen Elaine Brautcheck, Respondent. 1st District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Equitable distribution -- Court's valuation of marital assets and liabilities was not supported by competent substantial evidence -- On remand, trial court must reconsider other orders that stemmed from erroneous equitable distribution schedule -- Trial court did not err in valuing marital assets and liabilities as of the date of filing dissolution petition -- Building that was nonmarital asset of husband at time of marriage was transformed into marital asset where wife was instrumental in improvements made to building during marriage
JORDAN H. JORDAN, Appellant, v. LAURA JORDAN, Appellee. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Trusts -- Jurisdiction -- Where court had granted former wife's motion for continuing writs of garnishment over payments to former husband from discretionary trusts for the payment of former husband's alimony obligation, trial court did not err in substituting special trustee of trusts as a party to the family law action -- There is no merit to trustee's argument that court did not have personal jurisdiction over him as special trustee and the trust because the court did not grant the motion for substitution until the same date it granted the continuing writ of garnishment -- Trustee voluntarily submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the family law court when he was appointed as special trustee of the discretionary trusts, filed motions seeking relief in family court, and voluntarily appeared as trustee at hearing in family court
RICHARD K. INGLIS, ESQ., Appellant, v. ROBERTA SUE CASSELBERRY, Appellee. 2nd District.

Torts -- Contractors -- Failure to maintain premises in safe condition -- Business invitee's action against contractor seeking damages for injuries sustained when he tripped and fell over construction debris as he attempted to enter home through the garage -- Error to enter summary judgment for defendant where there was genuine issue of material fact as to whether contractor, the sole possessor of the property at the time of the incident, failed to satisfy its duty to maintain premises in safe condition -- Whether plaintiff's apparent recognition of open dangers within garage resulted in his assumption of risk of entering house by that route is issue to be decided by jury as part of comparative negligence determination

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fraudulent transfers, habeas corpus, foreclosures and purple spinach with walnuts sauteed in olive oil, greek oregano and garlic

Appeals -- Summary affirmance is appropriate where initial brief fails to demonstrate preliminary legal or factual basis for reversal of the appealed orders
MARTINA SPENCER, Appellant, v. FLORIDA POWER LIGHT/ BROADSPIRE, Appellees. 1st District.

Attorneys -- Discipline -- Referee properly found counsel, in his repeated rude, abusive and threatening behavior, violated Rules Regulating the Florida Bar pertaining to making a statement a lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, mediator, arbitrator, adjudicatory officer, or public legal officer; engaging in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal; violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct; and engaging in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including knowingly or through callous indifference disparaging or humiliating other lawyers -- Referee properly made recommendations as to guilt -- Considering prior similar misconduct, referee's recommended sanction of ninety-day suspension was improper and a two-year suspension is imposed instead
THE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant, v. JEFFREY ALAN NORKIN, Respondent. Supreme Court of Florida.

Bankruptcy -- Fraudulent transfers -- Avoidance -- Liability of transferee -- Chapter 7 trustee may not recover the value of debtors' donation from defendant church as an initial transferee under Section 550(a)(1) of Bankruptcy Code, because donation to church is avoidable as fraudulent transfer under Section 548 and defendant church served as mere conduit for debtors' donation and acted in good faith and as an innocent participant in debtors' fraudulent transfer -- Church did not have control over debtor's donation, even though funds were deposited into church's general operating account, where funds were specifically earmarked for a third-party charitable organization, defendant separately accounted for donation it received from debtors, and defendant ultimately transferred funds to a third-party charitable organization
In re: ULRICH FELIX ANTON ENGLER and PRIVATE COMMERCIAL OFFICE, INC., Debtors. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

Civil rights -- Law enforcement officers -- False arrest -- District court properly denied qualified immunity for arresting officer where facts viewed in light most favorable to plaintiff show that he lacked arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff -- Error to deny qualified immunity to defendant who was not present during alleged false arrest
MONIQUE WILKERSON, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. THEDIOUS SEYMOUR, Dekalb County Police Officer, O.B. PARKER, Dekalb County Police Sergeant, Defendants - Appellants. 11th Circuit.

Child custody -- Jurisdiction -- Trial court erred in finding home state of minor children to be Colorado where children had resided in Florida within six-month period prior to father's filing of petition -- Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, children's home state was Florida
ORION CHRISTIAN BARNES, Appellant, v. LACEY M. MORRISON BARNES, Appellee. 4th District.

Criminal law -- Attempted second degree murder -- Habeas corpus -- Ineffective assistance of appellate counsel -- Sentencing -- Trial court's incorrect statement that there existed “testimonial evidence that drugs were involved” indicated court was considering unsubstantiated allegations in its sentencing decision, and state failed to demonstrate that this improper consideration played no part in sentence imposed -- Prejudice -- Trial court's consideration of unsubstantiated factual claim undermines confidence in fairness, regularity, and propriety of petitioner's sentence -- Appellate counsel's failure to raise error on appeal was deficient performance that prejudiced petitioner -- Remand for resentencing
JUSTIN A. MARTINEZ, Petitioner, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Respondent. 1st District.

Criminal law -- Counsel -- Appellate -- Ineffectiveness -- Burglary -- Second degree felony murder -- Jury instructions -- Appellate counsel was ineffective for failure to argue fundamental error where jury was provided with the circular instruction that, to commit the offense of burglary, the defendant was required to have a “fully formed, conscious intent to commit the offense of burglary in that structure” -- Remand for new trial
CHRISTOPHER DEAN, Petitioner, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Respondent. 4th District.

Criminal law -- Counsel -- Ineffectiveness claim may not be raised on direct appeal where ineffectiveness is not apparent on face of record
JAMES MICHAEL ZIMMERMAN, Appellant, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. 5th District.

Criminal law -- Double jeopardy -- Increase in restitution -- Double jeopardy violation resulted when trial court imposed obligation to pay victim's student loans when original restitution order required restitution only for expenses related to victim's medical costs -- New hearing required
TONY LEMAR FISHER, Appellant, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. 5th District.

Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Malice murder -- District court properly denied relief on claim that state trial court's jury instructions on venue, an essential element of crime charged, improperly shifted burden of proof to petitioner and claim that state trial court's 25-year delay in resolving petitioner's motion for new trial violated his due process rights under Fourteenth Amendment -- Venue is essential element of Georgia offense of malice murder -- Instruction that jurors “shall” consider cause of death to have occurred where body was found created mandatory presumption which violated petitioner's constitutional rights -- Error was harmless -- Delay in ruling on motion for new trial -- Supreme Court has never held that there is constitutional right to speedy direct appeal in state criminal case, and appellate court finds no precedent suggesting that constitutional violation arises from untimely ruling on motion for new trial -- It cannot be said that state court's decision denying petitioner's motion for new trial was contrary to, or unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law
CHARLES EDWARD OWENS, Petitioner - Appellant, v. GREGORY MCLAUGHLIN, Respondent - Appellee. 11th Circuit.

Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- In awarding alimony, trial court erred by not making findings regarding husband's net income
KARL RENTEL, Appellant, v. SUN RENTEL, Appellee. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Child custody -- Timesharing -- Modification -- Trial court erred in entering order modifying timesharing agreement which exceeded scope of relief requested, and without notice that modification issue was set for hearing

Foreclosure -- Unpaid homeowners association fees -- Trial court erred in denying request to stay proceedings and to vacate summary judgment of foreclosure where defendant notified court that he was serving on active duty in the U.S. Army, attached copy of his military orders which required him to be in Pennsylvania two weeks before scheduled summary judgment hearing, and requested relief under the Soldier and Sailors Civil Relief Act -- Although defendant did not strictly comply with provisions of SCRA, in that he did not provide a letter or other evidence from his commanding officer stating that his military duty prevented his appearance, court should have given defendant an opportunity to supplement his request for stay before proceeding
DAVID S. HIGGINS, Appellant, v. TIMBER SPRINGS HOMEOWNERS, ETC., Appellee. 5th District.

Garnishment -- Wages -- Dissolution of writ -- Trial court erred in dissolving writ of garnishment served on debtor's employer based solely on debtor's affirmations that, pursuant to a vow of poverty, she had renounced all earnings and paid her wages directly to religious order of which she was a member and for which she was purportedly acting as agent -- Debtor lacks standing to assert religious order's claim to garnished wages -- Debtor failed to prove existence of agency relationship where there was no evidence of religious order's acknowledgment that debtor acted as its agent or that it controlled her actions and no evidence of a contractual agreement between employer and the religious order regarding debtor's employment
MERRIMAN INVESTMENTS, LLC, etc., Appellant, vs. THERESE UJOWUNDU, et al., Appellees. 3rd District.

Jurisdiction -- Civil procedure -- Service of process -- Evidentiary hearing -- Although summons was regular on its face in contradiction of defendant's allegation, trial court erred in not holding an evidentiary hearing after defendant submitted affidavit of non-service alleging summons was improperly left on her apartment doorstep
TIARA DAVIS, Appellant, v. NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT LOAN TRUST 2004-2, a Delaware Statutory Trust, Appellee. 4th District.

Receivership -- Condominiums -- Court's inherent, equitable authority to appoint a receiver in cases involving a non-profit condominium association is not restricted by statutes
GRANADA LAKES VILLAS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC., Petitioner, vs. METRO-DADE INVESTMENTS CO., et al., Respondents. Supreme Court of Florida.

Res judicata -- District court properly dismissed antitrust counterclaim in instant case where claim raised was identical to claim raised and litigated in another antitrust lawsuit between the same parties, and circuit court affirmed dismissal of that complaint -- Appellees' request for award of fees and costs under rule 38 denied

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Attorney's fees, standing, dissolution of marriage, judges, and grilled squash with goat cheese and basal-balsamic vinaigrette over wild spinach

Appeals -- Appeal is premature where related indemnity claim is pending in trial court

Attorneys -- Attorney's fees contract -- Trial court erred in denying petition for approval of a straight 40% contingency fee contract for representation of petitioner in a medical malpractice action -- Trial court is required by rule to approve petition as long as it finds that petitioner understood the rights that she was waiving and the terms of the fee contract

Attorneys -- Disqualification -- Conflict of interest -- Trial court did not depart from essential requirements of law in determining that a conflict of interest existed and in disqualifying law firm representing both defendants in negligence suit and plaintiff's employer with respect to its workers' compensation lien against any judgment awarded to plaintiff as result of his lawsuit

Attorney's fees -- Appellate -- Trial court did not abuse discretion in using a fee multiplier of 1.5 in awarding appellate attorney's fees where the court had determined that a multiplier of 1.5 was appropriate in awarding trial court attorney's fees -- Claim that prevailing party attorney's fees provision in sections 175.061(5) and 185.05(5), Florida Statutes did not apply to a local government pension fund established pursuant to special law was not preserved where issue was not raised before trial court or argued on appeal

Civil procedure -- Attorney's fees -- Timeliness of motion -- Tolling -- Pending post-judgment motion to set aside a final default judgment does not toll thirty-day time requirement for serving motion for attorney's fees and costs -- Trial court properly denied motion for attorney's fees and costs filed more than thirty days after final default judgment was filed
ASAP SERVICES, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, Appellant, vs. S A FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL, LLC, a foreign limited liability company, d/b/a OEC LATIN AMERICA, Appellee. 3rd District.

Civil procedure -- Dismissal -- Failure to prosecute -- Error to grant motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution where movant did not provide required sixty-day notice required by revised rule and neither movant nor trial court recognized three instances of record activity preceding dismissal -- Any filing of record during applicable time frame is sufficient to preclude dismissal without requiring that court find that the filing is intended to affirmatively move case toward resolution on merits
AEGIS, LLC., ETC., Appellant, v. MOHAMED MAWJI, FATEMA MAWJI, et al., Appellees. 5th District.

Contracts -- Action by manager of aircraft fleet against fixed base operator seeking damages pursuant to fixed base services agreement for damage caused to plaintiff's aircraft by defendant -- Claims for damage caused to some aircraft more than four years before breach of contract action was filed were barred by Texas statute of limitations -- Under Texas law, it was error to find that plaintiff was not entitled to recover damages for other damaged aircraft because plaintiff made an unreasonable pre-suit demand -- Remand for new trial on damages -- On remand, existence of, or amount of insurance coverage, is not relevant to issue of damages, and is not a proper matter for jury's consideration -- Similarly, defendant may not assert as an affirmative defense the duty to cooperate, which is an implied condition in the performance of a contract and, thus, relates solely to the issue of liability, not damages
BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE CORPORATION, Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v. SIGNATURE FLIGHT SUPPORT CORPORATION, Appellee/Cross-Appellant. 5th District.

Contracts -- Staffing agreement -- Indemnification -- Error to dismiss with prejudice fifth amended complaint alleging defendant breached duty to indemnify plaintiff for claims against plaintiff which were caused by defendant's employees -- Although defendant contended that plaintiff was not party to contract, plaintiff alleged the agreement extended coverage to contracting corporation's subsidiary, referred to on the contract's signature page as the plaintiff, and fifth amended complaint also alleged that the plaintiff was the contracting corporation's subsidiary and that defendant had contracted with the plaintiff for temporary employment services -- Further, although defendant alleged its duty to indemnify was limited to temporary employees listed in certain schedule, the contract required defendant to indemnify plaintiff for claims caused by the defendant's employees in general -- Accordingly, plaintiff adequately pled that the defendant breached contract by refusing to indemnify plaintiff for claim caused by defendant's employee
REPUBLIC SERVICES OF FLORIDA, LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, d/b/a ALL SERVICE REFUSE a foreign limited partnership, Appellant, v. WORKERS TEMPORARY STAFFING INC., a Florida corporation, Appellee. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Error to fail to include in final judgment findings relating to all factors listed in statute -- Equitable distribution -- Error to distribute marital assets and liabilities without stating value of each asset and amount of each liability -- Attorney's fees -- Award of attorney's fees to be reevaluated after clarification of equitable distribution scheme and alimony
RALPH PATINO, Appellant, v. YOLANDA PATINO, Appellee. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Where marriage fell in “gray area” between a short-term and long-term marriage, it was an abuse of discretion to award wife nominal alimony without factual findings regarding statutory factors for award of alimony
EMMANUEL TURCOTTE, Appellant, v. MICHELLE TURCOTTE, Appellee. 2nd District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Child custody -- Relocation of child -- Final judgment denying former wife's petition to relocate with child born of marriage is well-supported by evidence -- No merit to argument that trial court erred in applying factors enumerated in section 61.13001(7) to find that former wife failed to prove by preponderance of evidence that relocation was in best interest of child, but instead should have required former husband to prove that there had been a substantial change in circumstances since entry of initial judgment determining time-sharing, pursuant to section 61.13 -- Former husband was not required to prove a substantial change in circumstances because he was merely seeking enforcement of time-sharing schedule set forth in initial judgment, not a modification of time-sharing schedule
MISTIE FETZER, Appellant, v. KYLE T. EVANS, Appellee. 5th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Equitable distribution -- Qualified domestic relations order -- 401(k) -- Valuation -- In calculating one-half share of husband's 401(k) plan to be awarded to wife under terms of mediated settlement, trial court erred in including value of outstanding loans taken out by former husband to support parties' lifestyle -- Including outstanding loan balances in amount to be distributed to former wife would result in inequitable distribution and windfall to her and would leave undisposed marital liabilities represented by the loans -- Remand for modification of QDRO to provide that outstanding unpaid loans, as they existed on date of valuation, will not be included in distribution to former wife
JOEL C. TEAGUE, Appellant, v. LORA L. TEAGUE, Appellee. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Trial court abused discretion in requiring former husband to maintain life insurance policy as security for alimony without finding that husband could afford to maintain the policy and without finding that life insurance was necessary to secure alimony obligation
JEFFREY FROESCHLE, Appellant, v. LEONORE FROESCHLE, Appellee. 2nd District.

Judges -- Disqualification -- Challenge to blanket order from judge disqualifying herself from all cases involving a particular attorney employed by the public defender as the supervising division chief for the division in which the judge was the presiding judge -- Although trial judge had authority to disqualify herself in all cases involving a specific attorney under appropriate circumstances, judge departed from essential requirements of law by filing an “order” of blanket disqualification in a specific court file and including in this order the judge's personal opinions regarding the attorney's reputation and professionalism -- Order to be stricken from case in which it was filed -- If judge concludes that her relationship with this lawyer is such that she will be unable to treat lawyer's clients fairly, she can provide written notice of blanket disqualification to chief judge and clerk of circuit court and file typical notice of disqualification without further explanation in any affected court file
JULIANNE HOLT, Public Defender for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Petitioner, v. HONORABLE TRACY SHEEHAN, Circuit Court Judge, Hillsborough County, Respondent. 2nd District.

Judges -- Disqualification -- Prohibition -- Disqualification required where, although motion was legally insufficient, judge took issue with facts alleged in motion
ALAN SCOTT MCPHERSON, Petitioner, v. DANA EARLE MCPHERSON, Respondent. 4th District.

Mandamus -- Judges -- Disqualification -- Motion to disqualify should have been deemed granted after expiration of 30-day period following service of motion -- Order denying motion more than three months after it was filed quashed -- Remand with directions to enter order directing clerk to reassign case to different judge
PEARLY BELGRAVE-SIMMONDS, Petitioner, v. CHRISTOPHER BELGRAVE, Respondent. 4th District.

Mortgage foreclosure -- Standing -- Summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, where note attached to complaint contained two allonges signed by the same individual, one of which contained an undated endorsement from original lender to another entity and the second of which contained an undated endorsement in blank from this other entity, was proper because defendants failed to offer any evidence to overcome the statutory presumption that the individual signing the allonges was authorized to do so
VIRGIL M. BENNETT and LISSETTE C. BENNETT, Appellants, v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, etc., et al., Appellees. 4th District.

Mortgage foreclosure -- Standing -- Trial court improperly granted summary judgment for mortgagors, holding that to have standing to foreclose, mortgagee must be both holder and owner of the promissory note -- Because party seeking foreclosure is required only to be the holder of the note, mortgagee who holds note but provided no evidence of ownership has standing to foreclose
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Appellant, v. DANIEL P. MORCOM AND SHARON MORCOM, Appellees. 5th District.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Equitable distribution, arbitration, family law and potato-fresh chive, sage, and rosemary frittata with brie cheese and whole wheat toast with Tupelo honey

Another certiorari petition is filed too late:
Appeals -- Certiorari -- Timeliness of petition -- Appellate court is without jurisdiction to consider petition for writ of certiorari to review discovery order where petition was filed more than 30 days after rendition of order -- Motion for reconsideration was not an authorized motion and did not suspend rendition of order or toll time period for filing petition for writ of certiorari -- Petitioner is not entitled to an additional five days to file petition because of fact that order was e-mailed to petitioner's counsel
MICCOSUKEE TRIBE OF INDIANS OF FLORIDA, etc., Petitioner, vs. GUY LEWIS, Esquire, et al., Respondents. 3rd District.

Knowing when to appeal is as important as what to appeal:
Appeals -- Court has no authority to grant belated appeal in a civil proceeding
MICHAEL GREEN, Petitioner, v. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent. 1st District.

Knowing when to concede error is vital:
Appeals -- Sanctions -- Maintaining frivolous defense to appeal
M.B., Appellant, vs. AGENCY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, Appellee. 3rd District.

How long is the reach of long-arm jurisdiction?
Contracts -- Torts -- Jurisdiction -- Non-residents -- Law firm's action against former client for breach of contract and against former client's attorney for tortious interference with contract -- Allegations that out-of-state client breached contract with Florida attorneys by failing to make payment in state were sufficient to bring former client within ambit of long-arm statute -- Former client had sufficient minimum contacts with Florida where she voluntarily contracted with law firm in Florida to perform services on her behalf -- Error to dismiss claims against former client -- With respect to client's present attorney, complaint did not sufficiently allege that he committed a tortious act within Florida so as to provide basis for long-arm jurisdiction -- Actions giving rise to tortious interference claim against attorney occurred in foreign state, where attorney allegedly convinced former client to breach her contract with plaintiffs -- Fact that this action resulted in breach of a Florida contract and loss of income to a Florida firm is immaterial for purpose of determining jurisdiction
METNICK & LEVY, P.A., Appellant, v. BARBARA SEULING and LAW OFFICES OF ANTHONY J. PIRROTTI, P.C., Appellees. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Equitable distribution -- Decision regarding equitable distribution of marital home is deficient where no finding awarding equity in home can be discerned from record -- Where request for partition complies with statute, and is not contested by opposing party, failure to divide property is reversible error -- Imputation of income to former wife is not supported by findings or evidence -- Child support -- Error to require noncustodial parent to pay for private school tuition without required findings -- Error to require former husband to obtain life insurance to secure alimony and child support without required findings -- Attorney's fees -- Because equitable distribution award is reversed, it may be appropriate to reexamine attorney's fee award -- Contempt -- Error to require former husband to pay former wife's attorney's fees for enforcement of additional purge amount where former wife did not adequately demonstrate need for attorney's fees -- Because award of alimony and child support is reversed, determination that former husband is in contempt for failure to pay alimony and child support is also reversed -- Remand for more specific findings as to how amount of arrearage was calculated
DANIEL JOSEPH BRENNAN, Appellant, v. MARIANNE K. BRENNAN, Appellee. 4th District.

Why retaining appellate counsel in the trial court before appeal is helpful:
Dissolution of marriage -- No merit to husband's argument, raised for first time on appeal, that guardian ad litem's participation in trial requires reversal -- Although trial court erred when it allowed guardian ad litem to question witnesses, error was not fundamental and husband's failure to object constituted waiver of issue
JONATHAN MILLEN, II, Appellant, vs. ELIZABETH MILLEN, Appellee. 3rd District.

Trial courts can abuse their discretion in deciding injunctions:
Injunctions -- Domestic violence -- Dissolution of injunction -- In dissolving permanent injunction for domestic violence protection, trial court abused discretion by reweighing evidence supporting initial injunction rather than finding a change of circumstances since the injunction was issued
ALESSANDRA BARBIERI, Appellant, v. GLENN MULLER, Appellee. 5th District.

Signing with the express authority to sign is important in nursing home arbitration agreements:
Torts -- Nursing homes -- Arbitration -- Validity of arbitration agreement -- Where husband of nursing home resident signed arbitration agreement without indicating his authority to sign agreement on behalf of resident, it was error for trial court to deny defendants' motion to compel arbitration without holding evidentiary hearing to determine the validity of the agreement -- Trial court is required to conduct evidentiary hearing on motion to compel when there is a substantial issue regarding the making of the agreement -- Trial court should have conducted evidentiary hearing at which it considered parol evidence to determine whether resident assented to arbitration agreement in the absence of her signature, or whether resident's husband had authority to sign on resident's behalf -- Failure to sign an arbitration agreement does not automatically render the agreement invalid

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