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January 2013 Archives

Readers Weigh in on Orange County Textgate Scandal

orange county florida sealThe Orange-Osceola State Attorney continues to look into the Florida "textgate" scandal that surrounds Orange County authorities. The incident involves the removal of text messages from cell phones on Sept. 11, 2012 during a meeting and the subsequent vote. Council members opposed the sick-time measure initiative although about 50,000 voters wanted the measure placed on the ballot. The council members and other opponents texted each other about the vote during the meeting. While the texts were on personal cell phones, the messages that concern government business can be considered public records. The text messages allegedly violate the open-information requirements of the meetings. The case has made its way to civil court. While the mayor initially felt it was too soon to conduct an investigation, she has since changed her mind. She expressed her desire for transparency in the government and believes that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will provide that for the people.

Enhanced Rewards for Police Tipping Homicides. Effective or Problematic?

The combination of 44 homicides in the past two years and the rising amount of violent crime in Fort Myers, Florida has caused the Fort Myers Police Department to enhance the rewards for valuable police tips. FMPD Chief Baker states the reason for such enhancements is to encourage citizens to come forward and do the right thing. Rewards vary, anonymous tips leading to arrests of persons illegally possessing firearms and persons who have committed robbery could yield $5000.00. Individuals earn up to $25,000.00 for providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons responsible for any homicide in the city of Fort Myers. Valid intentions aside, increases in police tip rewards also invite frivolous tips and information. 

Do We Need Harsher Gun Laws in Florida?

Presently, in Florida public retail sellers are required to perform a criminal background check on all potential fire-arm buyers. Maintaining that it is illegal to sell a fire-arm to a felon (3rd degree felony penalty, 2012 Fl. Stat. Title XLVI ch.790.065(12)(c).), the fore-mentioned safe-guard is not a requirement of private online fire-arm sellers such as the business "Florida Gun Trader", whom has over 1900 guns for sale on their website. Current situations have raised questions regarding the effectiveness of preventing gun-related crime by the current fire-arm sales requirement laws. The dissimilarity in requirements for selling firearms in Florida parallels its residents' stance on the proposed harsher gun laws. 

The New Year...and its New Laws

Though the average citizen did not see many changes in Washington as Barack Obama was re-elected for his second term as President, there was important legislature passed that affects Florida. new years alarm clockThough several of these laws have been in effect since the summer, the 2013 New Year officially announces new laws for the public. 

Can Brain Composition Affect a Defendant's Outcome in Court?: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the intersection of neuroscience related to head trauma and the criminal justice system. Attorneys and physicians alike are increasingly linking certain criminal behavior by those guilty of misdemeanors and felonies directly to severe or repeated minor head trauma. In a challenging twist of fate, these individuals tend to be held criminally accountable for these actions, even if they have little to no control over them in the moment due to their brain trauma, because they are considered legally competent in broad ways.

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