first_imgGary Blankenship Senior Editor A proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with all judicial nominating commissions, require appellate judges up for retention to get a two-thirds approval rate, and dismantle The Florida Bar has been proposed in a rewrite of Article V introduced in the Florida House. HJR 627, by Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, would allow the governor to fill directly all appellate vacancies with the consent of the state Senate. It would also set a two-year minimum limit on writs of habeas corpus and give the legislature vastly increased powers over court procedural rules. And those are only some of the changes in the 36-page measure. Bar President Herman Russomanno said many of the changes in bill are “troubling” and some of the proposals would have the state revert to systems and practices which were purposefully changed decades ago to provide accountability and remove politics from the system. “Floridians expect fairness and impartiality in the court system and their expectations are justified and attainable,” Russomanno said. “But the efforts to stampede the judicial branch and the legal profession with unwarranted changes such as those proposed in HB 627 are completely contrary to what Floridians clearly want.” Bar President-elect Terry Russell said the bill ignores several past problems with the judiciary and court system that the current constitution fixes. “It’s regressive,” he said. Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, the Bar’s outside counsel, said the overall effect of the proposal would be to increase the influence of politics in the court system. “This resolution would set our state back 100 years,” Richard said. “It would remove all checks on the politicization of judicial selection, place incumbent judges at the whim of the legislature or any groups of persons dissatisfied with a particular decision, and significantly reduce the independence of the judiciary, a critical element in the maintenance of a just and democratic society,” Richard said. The Bar has also picked up indications that the House Committee on Judicial Oversight could consider Brummer’s bill early in the Regular Session, which opened March 6 as this News went to press. At deadline, no companion bill had been introduced in the Senate. As a constitutional amendment, it must get a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate before it can be submitted to voters next year. Russomanno also said in many respects the Bar was “stunned” by the bill, particularly in that it addresses many issues studied extensively by legislative directive in recent years by the 1995 Article V Task Force, the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission and the 2000-01 Supreme Court Workload Study Commission. HJR 627 makes changes throughout Article V. One provision appears aimed at Secretary of State Katherine Harris’ actions in last year’s disputed election that were challenged in court. A new subsection (b) in Section 1 provides that there must be some legal or equitable claim for a court to issue a quo warranto writ. It also limits cases when those writs could be used, which apparently would drastically limit citizens’ ability to challenge a public official’s action in court. The language specifically provides: “The power to issue a writ of quo warranto does not establish power to review any right, power or duty of a public official other than the right to hold the particular office claimed by such official, and the writ of quo warranto shall not be used for any purpose except to test a person’s authority to continue holding an office when challenged by competing claimant to such office.” The section would also allow the legislature by law to set a statute of limitation on the writs. Other sections on specific courts’ powers affect habeas corpus writs. The amendment adds language that judges may issue the writs “provided that such writs are subject to statutes of limitation of not shorter than two years from the final judgment or mandate on direct appeal in a criminal case.” Judicial Restraint Several other sections are aimed at restricting the power and activities of the courts. Section 1 would have language added that, “Subject to any additional limits in this constitution, the jurisdiction of such courts shall extend only to actual cases in law, equity, admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and to actual controversies arising under the constitution and the laws of the State of Florida and of the United States.” Richard noted that could be read to eliminate the court’s authority to issue declaratory judgments and also to exercise oversight of the practice of law. The legislature also would be given power in that section to designate that a district court of appeal could exercise statewide jurisdiction “respecting any subject matter granted. . . by general law.” Richard said this provision could be read that the legislature could assign a matter to a DCA to the exclusion of the Supreme Court. Some observers have suggested the legislature could use the section to create a statewide court of criminal appeals. Court procedural rules “may not be inconsistent with statutes in place at the time of adoption of such rules, shall be revised to conform to subsequently adopted statutes that regulate substantive rights, and may be repealed by general law. Rules adopted pursuant to this section shall neither abridge, enlarge, nor modify the substantive rights of any litigant, but additional rulemaking power may be expressly delegated to courts by general law.” Richard noted that language eliminates the distinction between substantive and procedural rules and allows the legislature to write court rules. He said there has not been any criticisms or problems with rules that would justify such a change. Dropped from the constitution would be a provision requiring a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to override a court rule. The court would be allowed to issue advisory opinions on the request of the attorney general or governor, but opinions issued at the request of the governor “shall not be binding upon any party not voluntarily participating in such proceeding.” The measure would also limit the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to items enumerated in the constitution, including judicial discipline. Section 9 of Article V would be rewritten. Currently, when the Supreme Court certifies the need for new judges or to reduce judges, the legislature can change the number, but it requires a two-thirds vote. The bill would simply allow the legislature to set the number of judges by law, including the number in each circuit and county court. The Supreme Court would be able to make recommendations on increasing or decreasing the number of judges and also on changing the district and circuits. The proposed revision did keep the number of Supreme Court justices at seven. Retention Upped Section 10 would be changed to require that Supreme Court justices and district court of appeal judges get a two-thirds “yes” vote in their merit retention referenda. That could have a potentially devastating impact on the First District Court of Appeal and substantial impacts on other appellate courts. While all three First DCA judges on last November’s ballots would have been retained, it would have been very close if they were retained with 68 to 69 percent of the vote. However, all six judges on the 1998 merit retention ballot and all four on the 1996 ballot would have lost, as they garnered 63 to 64 percent “yes” votes less than the 66.67 required in the proposed amendment. Results from 1994 were not immediately available, but in 1992, all six First DCA judges on the ballot would have lost, as well as all five on the ballot in the Fifth DCA and two in the Second DCA. In 1992, there was organized opposition to then Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett and she wound up with 60.9-percent approval a landslide by most standards, but not enough under the bill. In addition, the other three justices on the ballot Justice Major B. Harding and former Justices Ben F. Overton and Parker Lee McDonald would have fallen short of the two-thirds vote, by one to less than two percent. As Richard noted, “Judges, who among public officers should be the least sensitive to public opinion, would be made more subject to the sway of public sentiment than executive or legislative officers.” Trial judges would remain elected, but midterm vacancies, as well as all vacancies on the appellate courts, would be filled directly by the governor without using judicial nominating commissions. Those appointments would be subject to “the advice and consent of the Senate.. . . ” The Article V provisions setting up the JNCs and governing their actions would be stricken under Brummer’s measure. The bill provides that if the Senate is not in session when the appointment is made and does not call itself into session to consider a nomination within 30 days, then the nomination is deemed approved. If the Senate is in session and fails to confirm a nominee within 30 days, then the nomination is rejected, unless Senate rules allow for an exemption. If judges find their jurisdiction and powers limited, they could become more politically active. Brummer’s bill would constitutionally override judicial canons that prevent judges from becoming involved in partisan politics or expressing their views on issues likely to come before them on the bench. The bill specifically provides, “No judicial rule of conduct or other court rule may limit the political rights of candidates for election or appointment to judicial office, including, but not limited to, serving a political organization, endorsing or opposing other candidates for public office, making speeches, attending political functions, or making statements with respect to issues; however such limits consistent with other provisions of this constitution may be imposed by general law.” The amendment, while not mentioning it by name, would do away with or substantially reduce The Florida Bar by changing Section 15. That revised section would allow the legislature to assume at least some oversight of the profession. The section provides that the Supreme Court would have exclusive jurisdiction over admission and discipline for those practicing, according to a new phrase added to the section, “before the courts of this state.” Also added to the section is this provision: “The cost of such regulation and discipline shall be funded by appropriations, disciplinary penalties, and fees paid to the Supreme Court as authorized by general law. No attorney may be required to pay dues to any organization and no fees may be otherwise assessed by the court as a condition to admission to practice law before the courts of this state. The professional practice of law other than before the courts of this state may be regulated by general law.” “This provision would eliminate the Bar as an arm of the Supreme Court and make the court’s ability to regulate [the] practice [of law] entirely dependent upon the willingness of the legislature to fund the regulation,” Richard wrote. With the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Bar’s four lawyer appointments would be taken away and given to the legislature. Among other changes proposed in Brummer’s bill are: • An addition to Section 14 that, “Any prevailing party in any civil proceeding or any defendant convicted in any criminal proceeding may be assessed, as provided by general law, the full cost of all services utilized and expenses incurred in such proceeding as determined by the clerk of the circuit or county court, to the extent that such services or expenses are provided by appropriations, fees, or service charges.. . . Such assessments may be enforced as any money judgment or tax obligation.” • An addition to Section 3(b)(5) that when a case is certified to the Supreme Court as being of great public importance, “the district court’s jurisdiction shall be retained unless and until the Supreme Court issues an order accepting jurisdiction.” • The opt-in, opt-out merit selection plan for trial judges added to the constitution in 1998 by voters would be stricken. (That was a two-part process. The voter approval in 1998 set up a referendum in every circuit and county last November, on whether voters wanted to continue electing their trial judges or switch to a merit system. a decisive margin in every jurisdiction, voters chose to continue with elections.) • A provision of Section 14 that says courts have no power to fix appropriations would be changed to read that courts “have no power to fix or order any modification of appropriations.” • The requirement that one Supreme Court justice come from the jurisdiction of each of the five district courts of appeal would be removed. • The section that allows retired judges over the age of 70 to sit in temporary assignments would be removed. • Various requirements to hold law-related offices, such as judgeships, or elected state attorneys or public defenders, would remain unchanged except that those office-holders would not be required to be Florida Bar members. Instead they would have to be “authorized to practice law in Florida.” House bill would rewrite Art.V H ouse bill would rewire Art. V center_img March 15, 2001 Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

first_imgThe NFL will play games on Saturday if the 2020 college football season is canceled or postponed until the spring, according to a report by NBC Sports: The Mid-American Conference (MAC) became the first FBS program to cancel its football season as health concerns grow amid the coronavirus pandemic. BREAKING: AP source: Mid-American Conference becomes 1st major college football conference to cancel fall season. https://t.co/xwowzKup46— The Associated Press (@AP) August 8, 2020Commissioners of the Power 5 conference met Sunday night to discuss whether the fall season could be played, but no decisions have been made.“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago?” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Associated Press. “No, we’re not.”If the college football season is canceled or postponed and the report is true, the NFL would have games on four days of the week in 2020: Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday.center_img “It’s unclear whether the games would be broadcast, streamed, or distributed on a pay-per-view basis, but the league likely would backfill the vacant Saturday windows with NFL content. The easiest approach would be to treat each Saturday like the late-season tripleheader the league staged in 2019, with a game at 1:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. ET. That would trim the Sunday slate by three games each week.”MORE: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence becomes leading voice for #WeWantToPlay messagelast_img read more

first_imgA family in Missouri is reporting that they were made aware that the house they purchased was once used as a meth lab after their unborn child tested positive for methamphetamines.According to the report, the couple, Tyler and Elisha Hessel, went to the doctor for normal prenatal check-up when the doctor informed them of the find in Elisha’s blood work. Elisha says she had not been taking any methamphetamines which began an investigation of how the drug got into her system. Eventually the couple had their house tested for the drug and found a positive match for extreme levels of the substance within its foundation.When the couple inquired further about their home, they were informed that their house was once used as a meth lab.The Hessel’s have since moved out of their house for their safety and the safety of their unborn child, and say that when they contacted their bank, the county, and insurance company, none of the agencies could give them a clear answer as to why the house was sold to them without that information being disclosed originally.In addition to that, the couple says in order to get the house back to a livable state, they would have to strip the house down and rebuild it but their insurance company will not pay the $100,000 they were quoted from the rebuild. The couple says they have since resorted to creating a Gofundme page to help them get their lives back.If you would like to donate to this family click here.last_img read more

first_imgBy John Burton FAIR HAVEN – Kevin Ryan sees his work as a struggle between the light and the dark, between despair and hope.He believes that, though it doesn’t always seem that way, the light eventually wins out.Fair Haven resident Kevin Ryan, president of Covenant House International, with some of the youths of the organization.“For kids who are despairing, who feel alone in the world, this light, it’s more than encouragement – it’s oxygen. It keeps them breathing,” he said. “And to see that every day and to be part of that is one of the greatest privileges of my life.”Ryan, who is president of Covenant House Inter­na­tional, which helps homeless youths, is also the co-author of a recently published book detailing some of that organization’s work.“For kids who are despairing, who feel alone in the world, this light, it’s more than encouragement – it’s oxygen. It keeps them breathing,” he said. “And to see that every day and to be part of that is one of the greatest privileges of my life.”Ryan, who lives in Fair Haven with his wife and their six children, has been working with Covenant House for much of the last 20 years. He has been serving as the organization’s president for the past four years, overseeing the organization’s work in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Guate­mala and Nicaragua, helping approximately 57,000 youths a year.The organization has helped more than 1.2 million kids during its 40-year history.The work, the 45-year-old Ryan said, involves helping young people, usually between the ages of 15 and 20, who are on the streets “for whatever reasons.”Those assisted by Covenant House may have been discarded by families or have families that have imploded because of drugs. “It could be that the kids were abused or exploited so they leave home,” and find themselves out on their own where they face further exploitation and dangers, he said.With his work with Covenant House, Ryan has seen these young people as they face that darkness in their daily lives and it leaves Ryan wondering, “How do you go from crushing marginalization to hope?”That question is answered through the stories of many who come to Covenant House and is explored in his book.Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, co-written by former New York Times journalist Tina Kelley, tells six stories of kids who came through the door of the various Covenant House sites in the U.S. and Canada, and those who helped them move on to better lives.Since its publication in August the book has been listed on the bestseller lists of the Washington Post, Newsday and Publisher’s Weekly.Ryan noted recently that Almost Home was named to J.P. Morgan Holiday Reading List, which offers works with inspiring stories.One of the stories in the book tells of a teenage girl trying to make her way through Katrina-ravaged New Orleans and a woman, a cook for the local Covenant House operation, “who helps this teenager cross the bridge from poverty to opportunity,” Ryan said.“We wanted for people to read these stories and say, ‘I really want to do something about this,’ ” to coach, to mentor, to volunteer, to contribute, he said.The book offers recommendations on how readers can get involved.Through the work of his friends and acquaintances in the Two River area, and the efforts of students at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Covenant House has been able to open its most recent facility in Asbury Park. The organization, which operates mostly on private donations, opened its door there in a converted storefront on Dewitt Avenue about a year ago.The darkness Ryan sees can be pervasive. He has seen almost all who come seeking help share a common trait of blaming themselves for their situation.“They thought they had done something wrong and they wanted everything to be all right,” he said.There was a time some years ago when he felt he wasn’t making enough of a difference through his work, he conceded. Then one day, he entered a restaurant and ran into a young woman, Vinnie, who he helped years ago escape from a terrible situation. Her aunt had sold her into indentured servitude after Vinnie was orphaned at a young age. Vinnie faced repeated sexual abuse and wound up living in the Port Authority bus station in Manhattan where police discovered her and stepped in.When Ryan met up with her again, she was working as a waitress and attending school in the evenings studying to be a nurse. She was in a healthy, loving relationship with a man and was planning to marry.That encounter sparked in him a realization. “I thought, how in the world does a kid go from having their childhood taken away from them and repeatedly victimized and broken down, how do you go from there to the light?”The answer became clear.“It is the light that shines on the darkness every time one of these kids walks in the front door for the first time because there are these people all across Covenant House who are the light for these kids,” he said.Ryan has also worked for the United Nations and was first commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families.He and Kelley will be collaborating on another book that will document the trafficking of children in Latin America.last_img read more

first_imgThe run will be taking place at the Fish Creek Community Forest, and will feature a 5 km distance for adults, a 3 km distance for juveniles, as well as a 1.5 km distance for children.Racers running in the 5 km event will be running to take home the Holy Grail, a trophy annually handed out to the winner of the event, inspired by the Monty Python Holy Grail.The race is part of a collection of races run by the Grande Prairie Regional College, where runners earn points towards the season championship.- Advertisement -Despite the fact that some runners will be competing for points, anyone from around the Peace interested in strapping on their running shoes is more than encouraged to join in on the athletic fun. Registration for the event will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Northern Lights College Community Forest, with the race set to begin at 10 a.m.last_img read more

first_imgEU Parliamentary candidate Peter Casey says Ireland must suspend EU Freedom of Movement temporarily to avoid an immigration boom that will overwhelm the country.The Donegal-based businessman is calling for what he describes as a “mature discussion” on Ireland’s immigration policy to ensure migrants help sustain and grow the Irish economy rather crippling it.He says: “Britain leaving the EU poses an immediate immigration problem for Ireland. After Brexit, people within the EU, who would have ordinarily tried to migrate to Britain, will look to Ireland as an English-speaking alternative. Where else can they go? “Last year more than 200,000 people migrated to the UK from within the EU. If only a fraction of that number of people were to arrive in Ireland as the only other English-speaking country (except for Malta), then we would not be able to cope,” he says.Mr. Casey said the Central Statistics Office predicts that up to one million people will arrive in Ireland from other countries over the next 32 years. That is more than one fifth of our current population, yet there are no realistic plans to create the capacity to deal with such an influx of people.Mr Casey adds: “Last year, the ‘National Risk Assessment’ report disclosed that Ireland is at risk of increased illegal movement of asylum seekers. According to the report, Brexit could also give rise to a risk of increased illegal movement of third-country nationals into Ireland from the UK. It further notes possible consequences for secondary movements of asylum seekers and illegal migrants from the UK to Ireland in the event of UK divergence from EU law in the field of asylum.”The presidential election runner-up acknowledges that immigration is important to Ireland’s economy but is adamant it must be affordable. “I warmly welcome diversity and realise that continued immigration is vital to supply the labour needed to grow the Irish economy. However, it must be affordable.“We can’t afford the current rate of immigration into Ireland. That is obvious from the housing crisis, pressure on our health services, the cost of our social welfare system and many more areas of our society.“There are many people in our towns and cities who feel aggrieved and also many who believe we should open our doors just like other countries did for the Irish people for generations. This is why immigration should be top of the agenda for mature discussion. We need to acknowledge the views of all Irish people in order to make informed decisions on how we handle this ticking time bomb for our country.“We need to stop running away from controversial issues when hard decisions must be made. The politically correct lobby should stop trying to claim that any debate is right wing populism. That’s ridiculous.“Last year around 31,100 people from within the EU plus 30,900 from other parts of the world arrived in Ireland. That is a lot of new arrivals when compared 18,000 and 6,000 respectively in 2010.” “Article 112 of the EEA agreement gives a country the right to put in place safeguard measures regarding Freedom of Movement within the EU in light of ‘serious economic, societal and environmental difficulties’. If Britain leaves, then we have a major problem. There will definitely be ‘serious economic, societal and environmental difficulties’. If Liechtenstein can do it, so can Ireland.”Immigration ‘a ticking time bomb’ for Ireland – Casey was last modified: May 16th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:electionEUImmigrationPeter Caseylast_img read more

first_img The St. James Health Department will embark on a new vector control programme on June 3, which will include the prosecution of persons who refuse to destroy mosquito breeding sites.In an interview with JIS News, Chief Public Health Inspector for St. James, Lennox Wallace, said the programme will also include boosting the number of vector control personnel deployed to communities to 60, in a bid to assist in eradicating mosquito breeding sites, thus preventing the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. He added that additional equipment will be provided.“As you would appreciate, with the frequent rainfall expected, we will have breeding of mosquitoes, because of the settling of water in natural areas like ponds. Therefore, it’s a budgetary item that every June we have a programme that is similar to the one that was announced by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in January. We will employ a similar amount of vector control workers, which we would have already trained to place in different communities,” he informed.According to Mr. Wallace, the programme will consist of a public education component, where persons will be encouraged to take personal responsibility in the fight against the transmission of vector-borne diseases.He said the vector control personnel will work alongside public health inspectors to serve legal notices to property owners who reject warnings to eradicate mosquito breeding sites on their premises.Mr. Wallace said the progamme, which is anticipated to be a tremendous success, will end in October.“We seek to keep at minimum the nuisance mosquitoes that would have caused problems in the parish of St. James. We have confidence that, like last year, we will have a successful programme, and the usual complaints by the citizens will become commendations,” he said.In the meantime, Mr. Wallace pointed out that the just-concluded vector control programme, which was announced by the Health and Wellness Minister in January, was a tremendous success, reducing the parish Aedes index from 36 per cent to 13. In an interview with JIS News, Chief Public Health Inspector for St. James, Lennox Wallace, said the programme will also include boosting the number of vector control personnel deployed to communities to 60, in a bid to assist in eradicating mosquito breeding sites, thus preventing the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. He added that additional equipment will be provided. Story Highlightscenter_img The St. James Health Department will embark on a new vector control programme on June 3, which will include the prosecution of persons who refuse to destroy mosquito breeding sites.last_img read more