Archive for January, 2011

Florida Supreme Court: Knock and Announce

Florida’s statutory law has a knock and announce requirement. It is codified here. Is its violation a basis for excluding evidence?

Before you answer, consider that federal law now holds that a mere knock and announce violation is insufficient to require exclusion under the Fourth Amendment.

The answer is yes. The Florida Supreme Court held in this decision that the exclusionary rule applies to violations of Florida’s knock and announce statute, regardless of how the United States Supreme Court construes the Fourth Amendment.

Justice Polston dissented. He pointed out that the federal and Florida constitutions do not call for exclusion based on a failure to knock and announce and that neither does the statute on which the majority based its decision. Justice Polston observed that, because the majority relied on the statute, the legislature could eliminate the exclusionary rule.

Florida Supreme Court: Second-Tier Review, And A Message?

This decision caught my eye for a number of reasons.

The Florida Supreme Court exercised its discretionary review authority to quash a district court decision that, on second-tier review, quashed a circuit court appellate decision. The supreme court faulted the district court for not analyzing and developing how the circuit court departed from the essential requirements of law. The court stressed that, on second-tier review, a district court may not simply disagree with the manner in which the circuit court applied the correct law.

The decision cites a need for finality, and, frowning on higher court review merely to correct error, the high court emphasized the importance of not permitting a second appeal in the district court after a circuit court makes a decision in its appellate capacity.

Why did the supreme court choose to review this particular district court decision? Perhaps the supreme court was troubled by what it saw as too many second-tier review decisions simply correcting circuit court errors.

Particularly noteworthy is the decision’s tone. For a Supreme Court of Florida decision, it is strangely harsh in rebuking the district court not only for improperly disagreeing with the circuit court decision but also for the district court’s substantive position. The high court liberally used underlining and some pointed adjectives to deliver its message. The court’s tone is remarkable in any context but more so considering that, beyond the parties involved, the decision’s primary audience consists of district court of appeal judges.

Happy New Year

A happy new year to everyone who happens by here. Thanks for stopping by.

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