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This amendment provides property tax relief to Florida home owners by increasing the homestead exemption on property assessments by an additional $25,000.There are several asserted problems with that language, including that the amendment does not affect every home owner and that it does not technically provide "relief" -- it lowers the tax base by reducing homes' taxable base value, but taxing authorities could increase the rate to make up some or all of the difference.
If the State Supreme Court has held that an appellate court cannot rule on issues which were not raised at trial, how does that square with their statement that an appellate court can also address any item which may affect the case? Would this be limited to constitutional issues and fundamental errors?And here are my answers:
In addition, the Second District recently dropped a footnote in Smith v. State, 29 Fla. L. Weekly D1295 (Fla. 2d DCA May 28, 2004) which reads:
Because Smith's case must be retried, we mention another aspect of Smith's trial that was not argued in the briefs filed in this appeal. The prosecutors played for the jury the audiotapes of two lengthy interviews with Smith by sheriff's deputies. Upon retrial, if the State again seeks admission of these tape-recorded interviews into evidence, we suggest that the trial court consider whether some statements by Smith or the interrogating officers or both should be redacted. See §§ 90.403, 90.801-.802; Martinez v. State, 761 So. 2d 1074, 1079 (Fla. 2000); Worden v. State, 603 So. 2d 581, 583 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992).[I]f appellate courts in general will not address an issue raised for the first time on appeal, how can the Second District address something that wasn't even raised or briefed to them? Could it be distinguished on the basis that it was 1) dropped in a footnote and was not part of the ruling; 2) only a 'suggestion' to the trial court and not an order; and 3) couched as something the trial court should 'consider' as opposed to an error which required correcting?
Smith at D1302, n.5.
The idea that appellate courts cannot rule on issues not raised at trial is a prudential one that is based on the dominant function of the appellate courts: decisional error-checking. If the appellant said nothing about an issue to the trial court, then the trial court can hardly be said to have decided that issue adverse to the appellant, so there's really no decision to appeal. The exception is, of course, fundamental error -- an event unlawful in substance or process that bears so much on the notion of justice that the result in the case cannot be accepted as just simply because such a foul event occurred. Courts can address fundamental error for the first time on appeal, but, relatively speaking, very few things qualify as fundamental error. Some constitutional errors certainly do.
So how does this square with the idea that an appellate court can address any item that affects a case once the court's jurisdiction is invoked? Well, this latter proposition is quite different. It stems from the notion that, on some occasions, an appellate court's jurisdiction is invoked only by a particular issue, such as where the Florida Supreme Court's jurisdiction is triggered by, say, a constitutional issue. The state supreme court has long held that, once it has a case for some purpose, it can decide any issue presented by the case, if the court chooses to do so. (I'll note, parenthetically, that as stated the principle seems too broad: for instance, district courts of appeal hearing interlocutory appeals under Rule 9.130 steadfastly reject their ability to consider matters other than the appealable issue.) This is by no means the same as saying the court can address issues never previously raised in the case. The two sets of principles can thus work together: even if the supreme court's jurisdiction is triggered by one issue, the court has the ability to decide other issues presented by the case, so long as they are preserved for review or constitute fundamental error.
As for the Second District's footnoted comments, your second and third comments are appropriate. The appellate court did not make a decision, but the court did direct the lower court's attention to a particular issue. Why? Probably because it was a criminal case. In the criminal justice system, once an unpreserved issue reaches a certain level, which can be less than the level of fundamental error, it or the error of not raising it may form a basis for reversing the conviction or sentence at some future point, and a lot of work may be required to posture the case so that the issue may be addressed on its merits. The earlier the matter is directly addressed by the courts, the earlier justice can be obtained.
MAY AN EMPLOYEE RECEIVING WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS LITIGATE ENTITLEMENT TO ADDITIONAL BENEFITS THEN, HAVING OBTAINED AN AWARD OF THE ADDITIONAL WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS, BRING SUIT IN CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE PERSONAL INJURIES SUSTAINED ON THE JOB THAT WERE THE BASIS FOR THE AWARD?
PURSUANT TO SECTION 768.79, FLORIDA STATUTES (2001), AND FLORIDA RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 1.442, MAY A SINGLE DEFENDANT WHO MAY BE JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH ONE OR MORE CODEFENDANTS OFFER TO SETTLE A SINGLE PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM CONDITIONED UPON THE DISMISSAL OF CLAIMS AGAINST ALL DEFENDANTS?
MAY AN INDIVIDUAL BE COMMITTED UNDER THE JIMMY RYCE ACT IN THE ABSENCE OF A JURY INSTRUCTION THAT THE STATE MUST PROVE THAT THE INDIVIDUAL HAS SERIOUS DIFFICULTY IN CONTROLLING HIS OR HER DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR?The same court previously certified the same question in another case, back in August of last year, but since it has been awhile, I thought I'd repost it here on the blog.
WHERE A DECEDENT IS NOT SURVIVED BY A SPOUSE OR ANY MINOR CHILDREN, DOES DECEDENT'S HOMESTEAD PROPERTY, WHEN NOT SPECIFICALLY DEVISED, PASS TO GENERAL DEVISEES BEFORE RESIDUARY DEVISEES IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 733.805, FLORIDA STATUTES?
Does the procedure prescribed in I.T. v. State deny defendants their federal constitutional rights to trial by jury and proof beyond a reasonable doubt?
Wearing underwear on his head as a disguise, Berube rode his bicycle to the Totally Convenient Food Mart where he used a pellet gun to rob the store. Notwithstanding, a jury of his peers saw through this disguise and convicted him.Nice. The case has more of the same if you read on.
Impeachment is a harsh and constitutionally important matter. It is intended to be a remedy for misconduct, not for mistakes in legal decisions or for having an unpopular philosophy. Legal mistakes or misjudgments should be corrected through the appellate process, and under no circumstances should a judge be impeached based on legal rulings that have been affirmed. Since our trial judges in Florida are elected, personality issues or philosophical concerns can be addressed at the ballot box.I encourage everyone to take an interest in the law and have an opinion on it. That's part of the purpose of this web log -- to help inform people about what's going on in Florida law. I also encourage people to trust the legal system in Florida. It is filled with fine judges at all levels, and while mistakes are made, the system almost always corrects them.
I know that something similar like this was used to get to get Governor Bush involved in the Terri Schiavo case. Now, it appears they are going about it on a different route. Would a petition of this sort carry any weight into impeaching Judge Greer? and would you care to comment on any of the 30+ transgressions?My response:
I will comment on how sad that petition is. Judge Greer is an honorable public servant who does not deserve such treatment.
Our judicial system utilizes a system of checks through the appellate process, and the bottom line is that Judge Greer's rulings have been repeatedly affirmed on appeal. Most of what I see in that list I do not think the Schindlers have argued in court, let alone on appeal, which says much about the merits of those allegations.
Some of those allegations are so legally baseless that they are amusing.
As for the points in the list that the Schindlers have previously raised on appeal, those arguments have been rejected, which definitively resolves their merits as nonexistent. In that sense, the petition may just as well name the Second District judges who affirmed Judge Greer's decisions and the Florida Supreme Court justices who found the Second District's decisions not to be in conflict with prior precedent. Judge Greer has not been a lone wolf here -- he has made his decisions, and all sides have had, and will continue to have, every chance to challenge his findings and conclusions on appeal.
I suppose the people who authored that petition and who support it are comforted by their actions, but that does not make their allegations of error and misconduct correct. I wonder if any of those persons has a law degree, with the education and training to opine on what constitutes a violation of the law or the canons of judicial conduct. I suspect I know the answer.
I understand your comment about Governor Bush, but he did not become involved in this case because of anything similar. He became involved because numerous persons asked him to do something, and he responded to those requests by advancing the bill that eventually became "Terri's Law." I have never heard Governor Bush state that Judge Greer has violated the law or the canons of judicial conduct in any way.
To answer your question about whether this will carry any weight, I am confident the answer is no. None whatsoever.
Let me clarify that all this does not mean that I believe Judge Greer has been correct in every decision he's made in this case. What it means is that his decisions have thus far been determined by higher courts to be consistent with the law of Florida. Attacking him -- with a petition for impeachment, no less -- is simply absurd.
How very sad. Thanks for sharing it with me, though. It's good to be aware of what's going on, even if it's depressing to hear.
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