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THE FLOG

UPDATE: As a result of this story, the schoolteacher referenced in this story has been dismissed from the jury.

Richard David Smith III is a name familiar to Folio Weekly readers, who saw his byline on almost a weekly basis a few years back. Last week, he came very close to serving on the latest Trial of the Century of the Week — the Michael Dunn retrial that tops our local news every evening. But it didn’t quite happen.

Smith spent three days at the courthouse for jury screening, a process he describes as “very long” and filled with “odd questions” from “too many lawyers trying to be comedians,” making “a lot of jokes about budget cuts.”

Some of those japes came from Angela Corey, who seems intent on improving her public image with this case. Folks on hand were treated to cornball quips like “I might break into song,” a joke she made while being told to hold the mic by the judge.

Many of the questions, Smith says, had to do with “race and gun ownership” — a trend reflected in the composition of the jury, many of whom have guns. It seemed to him — and to me — that the sweet spot in jury selection, those agreeable to prosecution and defense, led to a preponderance of gun owners with children. Given the fact that 10 of the 12 jurors are white, clearly there were factors other than race that came into play.

“I think the defense wanted white males, particularly gun owners,” he says. “I couldn’t quite figure out what the prosecution was looking for other than minorities and/or people with children.”

During the jury selection process, Smith asked for and received a private sidebar. When he divulged that he had written for Folio Weekly in the past, he says, “Angela Corey expressed great sensitivity to things that had been written about her there.” [Editor’s note: Ha.]

“She said, ‘you know …   More

THE FLOG

Here’s a little gem from the bowels of the Internet for your Friday morning reading pleasure. Our writer comes from Riverside.

Title: Dear kid who slept in my car last night. 

I know, you really tied one on last night. I foolishly left my car unlocked, as I was out a bit late myself. But you must have been walking home after a long night of partying it up when you mistook my car for a Holiday Inn Express. Fortunately, I don't leave anything valuable in my car.

I'm sorry I woke you up so early, buttercup. It must have been a rude awakening having an angry, 220 lb dude screaming at you at 7 am. It's just that I am not used to people using my car as a quonset hut. But good job stumbling down the street and trying to pretend that my neighbor's car was yours as you fumbled with your keys that would not fit her lock.

I'm usually one to let bygones be bygones, but you did kinda fuck up my leather when you flopped down in my cozy bucket seat. Thanks for not breaking anything else, but I am going to have to ask you to pay a room fee of 50 bucks. In return, you can have your prescription glasses back. I figure that's cheaper than getting a new pair and I can fix the tear in my leather.

Thanks,

Reverend Loki

Church of the Subgenius

Proprietor of Hotel Volkswagen

PS: thanks for not peeing, pooping, or barfing.

 

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THE FLOG

Jason Tetlak, a candidate for the City Council, posted a message and video on Facebook this afternoon announcing that he is no longer accepting campaign donations.

Today I am announcing that my campaign will no longer take donations. To me it is wasteful to raise huge amounts of money to buy things that will end up in our landfill in a couple of months. I'd be more than happy to have you volunteer your time to help me win this election, but I just think your money could be better spent elsewhere.

He points out that, even in the early stages, City Council candidates have raised in excess of $1 million, which he thinks is wasteful. “That money would be better spent donating it to our schools or cleaning up our river,” he says on the video. “ … I don’t want your money, and I won’t accept it even if you offer it to me.”

And, he says, he never enjoyed asking for money in the first place — which, to be fair, is the same thing a whole lot of politicians will tell you, right before they ask you for a check. 

“Will doing things differently cost me the election,” Tetlak asks. “Maybe.” But “winning doesn’t necessarily mean getting elected.” 

It’s worth pointing out that Tetlak, a former elementary schoolteacher, wasn’t quite winning the money game anyway. To date he’s raised a little over $2,300, and has about $500 on hand. His opponent, Jim Love, has raised more than $32,000, and has about $27,000 left. 

Video here:

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THE FLOG

Well, this is depressing: Last year, in the midst of the city’s financial difficulties and with Mayor Brown proposing 14 percent across-the-board cuts (which the City Council eventually replaced with a 14 percent property tax hike), the City Council zero-funded Jacksonvile Area Legal Aid, an organization that provides civil legal services for individuals who can’t afford their own attorneys — like the public defender’s office, only for foreclosures and family law disputes and the like, not criminal cases. This compounded an existing problem: JALA and other legal aid groups across the state have fallen victim to recent waves of austerity. The Florida Bar has halved its funding to legal aid organizations over the last six years. Gov. Scott has vetoed any and all state funding for legal aid, making Florida one of only three states that doesn’t believe the poor should have legal representation when going up against big banks and the like. 

JALA has seen its funding from the Florida Bar Foundation wither from $1.2 million in in 2009-’10 to an expected $250,000 or so next year, which of course means fewer lawyers taking on fewer cases, and fewer poor people having someone to help them navigate the murky waters of civil and family law. And that’s why Council’s decision last year was such a devastating blow — especially considering that the three other counties JALA serves (Nassau, Clay and St. Johns) all pay more-per-poor-person than Jacksonville does, and other major Florida counties pay more than twice what Duval does for legal aid services. 

So it was encouraging, then, that Brown’s budget proposal, released last month, contained $443,000 for JALA, a relative pittance (1 percent of what we dropped on those scoreboards; yeah, I know, those things came from tourist taxes that we can’t use to help poor people, but still) that could help JALA rebuild from the the recent devastating cuts. …   More

THE FLOG

Courtesy of friend-of-Folio Weekly Marvin Edwards, here’s an op-ed the Times-Union published on July 11, 1993, from Thomas Petway III, a partner of Touchdown Jacksonville!, the ultimately successful group that was, two decades ago, trying to land this city a professional football team. 

If we win, we get our NFL team and the excitement of 10 great home games each year [ed. note: 10?], plus a major economic boost that includes 2,000 new jobs and an impact of $1 billion by the year 2000. 

We will have seized the most important moment in our history, ensuring a Jacksonville of the 21st century that will be full of hope and promise and a community in which our children and grandchildren will want to live and work. Jacksonville, too, will be a first-class city! 

Petway goes on to tout Jacksonville’s advantages over competing cities. The first one: 

Having an NFL quality stadium, which Jacksonville is assured with the Gator Bowl renovation agreement reached between Touchdown Jacksonville! and the Mayor’s Office which calls for all NFL renovation costs to be paid by our new NFL team. [Emphasis mine.]

Guess that agreement had a shelf life. 

 

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THE FLOG

Gay marriage legal on southern tip of Florida as four counties all agree gay marriage ban violates U.S. Constitution. Marriages on hold awaiting appeals.

Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The following day, on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis threw out the gay marriage ban there.  In the past 21 days, four South Florida judges have ruled the ban a violation of the rights of gay residents to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constituion — in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and now Palm Beach. The rulings in all four circuits are stayed pending  appeal by Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida voters amended the state constitutino in 2008 and made gay marriage illegal.  

On Wednesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguements in six gay marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Associated Press reports today. Each case relates to statewide marriage bans. The Herald reported Monday that the organization Freedom to Marry says LGBT advocates have won more than 30 times in federal, state and appeals courts since June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court tossed part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in ruling in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow from New York.

Judge Cohen cited Windsor in his Monday ruling, the Herald reports. 

The Florida Supreme Court delivered a ruling on gay marriage. If the circuit rulings hold, it woudn't legalize gay marriage throughout the state, just in the circuits that have legalized it. A Florida Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is still sometime down the line.   More

Days after Jacksonville resident Curtis Lee submitted a public records request to the office of State Attorney Angela Corey, SAO investigators showed up at his home. They told Curtis he should stop contacting Angela Corey and her public records designees.

Circuit Court Judge Karen R. Cole ruled on August 1 that Angela Corey and two assistant state attorneys violated the state's public record laws in response to Lee's requests for information about the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund. Judge Cole awarded Lee attorneys fees and costs. She also ordered the SAO to change its policy of requiring a money order or cashier's check from the public for records, saying the SAO should accept cash and other forms of payment. And she slammed Corey's office for sending investigators to Lee's home. 

"Plainly, a visit by two SAO investigators to a citizen only days after that citizen had made a public records request directed to the SAO, couple with the advice that the citizen should ‘stop clling the SAO,’ would have a chilling effect on the willingness of the citizen (or most citizens) to pursue production of the public records to which he or she is entitled under Florida law," Judge Cole wrote. 

Lee said he objected to the SAO requirement that he pay for records by money order. He lives 18 miles away from the SAO, and he said, picking up records required him to take money out of a bank and buy a money order, which he argued added to the cost of the records he sought. Judge Cole agreed.

"It was really aggravating to me for several reasons," Lee told me. “It was really inconvenient. I'm 57 years old now. What if I was 78? Why don't they take personal checks? What if I didn't have a car. What if I was in a wheelchair. What is the justification for not taking personal checks?" 

Judge Cole awarded Lee attorneys fees and cost. The ruling will also make it somewhat easier for a regular person to obtain records. Judge …   More

THE FLOG

This morning the T-U informed us that The Shipyards is, for lack of other options, probably Shad Khan’s for the taking, provided his proposal comports with the Downtown Investment Authority’s masterplan and gains City Council approval, neither of which seems like a particularly difficult hurdle. This is exciting. There are few pockets deeper around here than Khan’s, and few areas more in need of a large, ambitious vision than The Shipyards; the city’s inability to do anything with that waterfront property is, for lack of a better word, embarrassing. If nothing else, Shad Khan gets shit done. (And yes, I can simultaneously hold that view and not be in thrall to spending $43 million on oversized EverBank scoreboards.) 

The devil, of course, will lie in the details: what Khan wants from the city (and how much the city is willing to give), and what exactly he wants to do with the property. We know very little on these fronts, except that if Khan is the master developer the project will likely take on a sports-entertainment theme. (Perhaps something akin to the $100 million development the Orlando Magic are working on in Central Florida, perhaps not.) 

Per the T-U story: 

The Downtown Investment Authority also would play a role. The authority’s recently completed master plan for downtown redevelopment says the 44-acre Shipyards site would be suited for “large-scale, mixed-use development centered around sports, entertainment and tourism.”

The master plan, which the authority board approved last week, says possible uses could be an aquarium, a U.S. Navy ship museum, a water park, a residential community, a marina, shops and restaurants.

The Jaguars have been in talks with the organization seeking to bring the USS Charles F. Adams to Jacksonville by docking it at a pier in The Shipyards for public tours. In May, the Jaguars floated the idea of building an indoor practice facility as part of a bigger …   More

THE FLOG

Gay marriage legal on southern tip of Florida as four counties all agree gay marriage ban violates U.S. Constitution. Marriages on hold awaiting appeals.

Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The following day, on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis threw out the gay marriage ban there.  In the past 21 days, four South Florida judges have ruled the ban a violation of the rights of gay residents to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constituion — in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and now Palm Beach. The rulings in all four circuits are stayed pending  appeal by Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida voters amended the state constitutino in 2008 and made gay marriage illegal.  

On Wednesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguements in six gay marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Associated Press reports today. Each case relates to statewide marriage bans. The Herald reported Monday that the organization Freedom to Marry says LGBT advocates have won more than 30 times in federal, state and appeals courts since June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court tossed part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in ruling in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow from New York.

Judge Cohen cited Windsor in his Monday ruling, the Herald reports. 

The Florida Supreme Court delivered a ruling on gay marriage. If the circuit rulings hold, it woudn't legalize gay marriage throughout the state, just in the circuits that have legalized it. A Florida Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is still sometime down the line.   More

THE FLOG

Last month, you may recall, a Florida judge declared unconstitutional the comically gerrymandered congressional districts created by Republicans in the Legislature, ruling that they blatantly violated an amendment the state's voters had overwhelmingly approved in 2010. 

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering — that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other.

Gerrymandering "has been criticized as allowing, in effect, the representatives to choose their voters instead of vice versa," he wrote.

Specifically, Lewis found that congressional districts 5 and 10 had been drawn to favor the GOP, and that neighboring districts had been affected as well. Those two districts, and any others affected, will need to be redrawn, he said.

District 5, of course, is the sprawling slice of weirdness that stretches from Jacksonville all the way down to Orlando, snagging black communities along the way (and thus making the adjoining Republican districts safer, which is the whole point). It belongs to Corrine Brown, GOP foot soldier. And she was none too thrilled about Lewis’ ruling: "Minority communities do not live in compact, cookie-cutter-like neighborhoods, and excessive adherence to district ‘compactness,' while ignoring the maintenance of minority access districts, fragments minority communities across the state," she raged. 

The Legislature decided not to appeal, for that would only be more embarrasing. Instead it asked Lewis to let the districts stand until after the November election. 

Today, he said …   More

 
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