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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Legal News Dominates

  This week has seen a huge slate of legal related news on both the local and national levels.  I guess the biggest news would have to be the Supreme Court's - SCOTUS on the news wires - ruling on health care.  Chief Justice Roberts showed his concern for the legacy of the Court and his tenure as Chief with his ruling that literally split the baby, Solomon like.  He stood for the supremacy of the legislative process in our scheme of government by siding with four justices in saying that the "individual mandate" was a tax and within the constitutionally established powers of Congress.  He crossed the road and stood with four other justices and made certain everyone understood the same "individual mandate" was not within the scope of the Commerce Clause and therefore did not meet constitutional muster.  While that may seem inconsistent to both sides of the aisle if you read some of the better respected legal minds from academia you can see the importance and distinction in the positions the Chief Justice took.  He literally upheld the constitution in its basest form and allowed the legislative branch its due while telling it, on the other hand, it had gone too far.  From a purely historical and legal point of view justice was done.  The Chief Justice is to be commended for that!

  Locally the first two days of a suppression hearing culminated Friday with one of the world's most respected authorities regarding the mental processes and abilities of children telling Judge Cooper, and the world, why Christian Fernandez could not have understood or exercised his rights when he was questioned by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.  Having been around the legal system in Northeast Florida for longer than I care to admit I have to sit back in admiration when I see the names Hank Coxe and Buddy Schulz mentioned in the same article.  When you realize they are on the same team and standing between the child and the massive State you know there have to be some serious issues being batted around for lawyers such as them to be stepping to the plate.  The Assistant State Attorneys are good lawyers, well experienced and respected.  But, we are talking true Hall of Famers with Coxe and Schulz!  You can read the blogs and comments all over and hear all the nastiness people vent against the bar, Judges, the law and lawyers in general.  But knowing that the pezzonovante are looking the Honorable Angela Corey in the eye and saying no to prosecuting twelve year olds makes me proud to be an American, a Floridian and a lawyer.  Thank you Messrs. Coxe and Schulz.

  Semi-locally, at least from the point of view of the prosecution, George Zimmerman dominated the cable channels Friday with the newest attempt to get him out on bond pre-trial.  Judge Lester may have been rightly upset that Mrs. Zimmerman had allegedly lied about the monies they had access to when she testified.  But just as the sins of the fathers are not that of the sons, the lies of Mrs. Zimmerman have no more impact on the bond criteria for George Zimmerman than I do on the path of the sun through the daytime sky.  Is George Zimmerman a danger to the community?  Other than the pending charge and some minor scrapes a few years ago there is nothing to suggest he is a man to fear.  Is George Zimmerman a flight risk?  Not only no, but hell no!  He was told by Mark O'Mara, a man who appears to be a true lawyer of respect, that he had forty-eight hours to surrender and return to jail.  He was in an unknown location, had two days and some funds and still did the right thing.  He surrendered and has been in custody for the better part of June!  George Zimmerman is not a flight risk and is willing to exercise his constitutional right to trial.  He needs to have a bond set that is not punitive in nature and secures his appearance in court.  Hopefully, Judge Lester will do the right thing next week and set a reasonable bond.  This case needs to proceed and let the legal process work like it was prior to the introduction of public pressure and politics.  The interference of people with little or no knowledge of due process and local rules does not bode well for the appearance or achievement  of justice.

  All three of these issues were media circuses in their own rights - emphasis on the circus.  The Solicitor General had been chastised, ridiculed and parodied over his performance during the three days of argument earlier in the year.  Where are the accolades for him now that his narrow argument regarding taxation carried the day and captured the support of the Chief Justice in doing the constitutionally correct thing?  Thank you Geoffrey Toobin for admitting your short comings and jumping the gun, now tell your colleagues in the media to belly up to the bar of public scrutiny and admit their errors.  Politics will now set in to dominate the issue of national health care.  Sadly, the other two will continue to suffer the three ring atmosphere that has cast doubt on the integrity of our system of justice!

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