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Florida Supreme Court

Pro Freedom
Total Judgeships: 

7 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

Non-Partisan

Location(s): 
Tallahassee
Caseload: 

2500

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LISTEN NOWThe Freedom Files Podcast Episode 37: Shon HopwoodListen Here
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Real Time Cell Data Protected by 4th Amendment

Thu, 10/16/2014

Tracey v. Florida: Investigators properly attained a pen register on Tracey’s cell phone to monitor incoming and outgoing calls. Although law enforcement did not have the proper warrant to track Tracey’s real time cell location data, the officers attained this information anyway. Lower courts found in favor of the government and decided that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for information handed over to a third party (US v. Knotts).

Decision

Supreme Court squashes lower court decisions and remands for further proceedings. The police lacked probable cause and the appropriate warrant; the tracking of Tracey’s location and subsequent arrest was unconstitutional.

Read the full decision here
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Sentence Reversed Because Pull-Over Ruled Groundless

Wed, 07/02/2014

State of Florida v. Kerrick Van Teamer: Teamer’s vehicle was pulled over by a sheriff because the color of his truck did not match the description of the truck in the police database. Upon pulling Teamer over, the sheriff demanded to search the vehicle after he noticed the smell of marijuana. The search resulted in finding marijuana, cocaine, and $1,100. As a result, Teamer was charged with drug trafficking and possession of marijuana. Teamer appealed to the Florida Supreme Court on the grounds that the sheriff pulled over his vehicle without cause.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Florida upheld the First District’s decision and ruled in favor of Teamer to suppress the evidence that was found in his vehicle, making the evidence invalid in court. As a result, the Supreme Court of Florida calls for the discharging of Teamer from his conviction. The Court’s decision was based in the finding that a color discrepancy of a vehicle does not warrant probable cause for being pulled over by an officer but rather infringes upon a citizen’s 4th Amendment right to travel roads free from governmental intrusions.

Read the full decision here
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Death Conviction Re-Examined and Vacated

Thu, 06/26/2014

Paul Christopher Hildwin v. State of Florida: In 2006 Hildwin was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His conviction was greatly based on DNA evidence that linked his biological material to samples found of the victim’s clothing. As the result of new DNA technology, the evidence was re-tested and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court to re-examine the findings and conviction.

Decision

The Supreme Court vacated the death sentence and conviction of Hildwin based on the new DNA evidence that linked the biological material to the victim’s boyfriend and not to Hildwin. The Court remanded the case for new trial in the lower courts.

Read the full decision here
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Innocent Until Proven Guilty Upheld Even After Conviction

Thu, 06/12/2014

Carl Dausch v. State of Florida: Carl Dausch was convicted of murder and placed on death row in 2012. As a result of new DNA technology, the evidence from his case was re-opened and re-examined, resulting in the rise of an element of possible doubt of his guilt in the homicide. His case was brought in front of the Supreme Court in order for a re-examination of the evidence and the decision to take place.

Decision

The Florida Supreme Court repealed the death sentence of Dausch, removing him from death row and transferring him back to Indiana where he is convicted of other crimes. Upon the information presented by the new findings, the Court determined that the evidence was not sufficient to convict Dausch of being responsible of the murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

Read the full decision here