Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August 2016 Election Recommendations for Sarasota and Manatee Counties


     Keep in mind that ALL registered voters get to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment and in school board races. If you are a registered Republican or Democrat,  you also have some primaries. I will let my Republican friends make their own selections. In Manatee County, two commission seats will be decided in August and are open to all voters.
     The school board races are of particular importance.

SARASOTA:
  U.S. Senate: Pam Keith
  U.S. Congress: Jan Schneider
  State Senator: Frank Alcock
  State House (Dist. 70) C.J. Czaia
  State House (Dist. 74) Manny Lopez
  School Board (Dist. 2) Caroline Zucker
  Constitutional Amendment 4 (Solar Power): YES
 
MANATEE:
    U.S. Senate: Pam Keith
    U.S. Congress: Jan Schneider
    State House (Dist. 70) C.J. Czaia
    Manatee County Commission (District One) Corie Holmes
    Manatee County Commission (District 5) Kathleen Grant
    School Board (District  One): Ed Viltz
    School Board (District Three) David Miner
    Constitutional Amendment 4 (Solar Power): YES

Friday, March 4, 2016

Outline of Florida's new Death Penalty Law

Initial Analysis of Florida’s New Death Penalty Law
The Florida legislature has now passed a new death penalty law and sent it to Governor Scott. The Governor is expected to promptly sign the bill. Here are a few of the new features:
--The law is to take effect upon signing.
--The prosecutor must give notice of intent to seek death within 45 days of arraignment.
--This notice must list the aggravating factors “the state intends to prove and has reason to believe it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
--“The court may allow the prosecutor to amend the notice upon a showing of good cause.”
--At the penalty phase, the jury must unanimously determine whether the state has proven the existence of at least one aggravating factor.
--The verdict must identify each aggravating factor found to exist.
--If the jury does not unanimously find any aggravating factor, “the defendant is ineligible for a sentence of death.”
--If at least one factor is unanimously found by the jury, the defendant is death eligible.
--If death eligible, the jury makes a recommendation to the court as to whether the defendant is sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, or death.
--The jury’s recommendation is based on:
--whether sufficient aggravating factors exist;
--whether the aggravating factors out weight the mitigating circumstances.
--if at least ten jurors determine the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury’s recommendation shall be death.
--if fewer than ten jurors determine the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury’s recommendation shall be life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
--The trial judge makes the final decision.
--The trial judge may not override a life recommendation and sentence the defendant to death.
-- The trial judge may override a death recommendation and sentence the defendant to life.
--If the trial judge sentences the defendant to death, the judge may only consider those aggravating factors unanimously found by the jury.
--The new statute gives explicit directions to the trial judge as to what must be contained in the written sentencing order if the Defendant is sentenced to death.
--“If the court does not issue its order requiring the death sentence within 30 days after the rendition of the judgment and sentence, the court shall impose a sentence of life imprisonment.”
Not in the statute but an obvious conclusion is that the Florida stand jury instructions for the penalty phase will have to be substantially rewritten. Additionally, new interrogatory verdict forms will need to be drafted.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Upcoming Speaking Engagements:


Friday, January  8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Speech to the Free Thinkers of Sarasota: “Should the Death Penalty in Florida be Reformed or Abolished?” Sarasota, U.U.

Monday,  January  11, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. “Beyond Criminal.” Moderating a discussion on prison reform, rehabilitation vs. incarceration, and the death penalty.  Sarasota – Fogartyville

Friday, January 22, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. “Florida Criminal Justice Reform.” Venice, U.U.

Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. “Thurgood Marshall” panel discussion. St. Petersburg, Carter Woodson African American Museum.

Thursday, February 4 at 11:30 a.m. “Body Cameras for Police,” panel discussion. Sarasota, Tiger Bay.


Thursday, February 25 at 7:30: “An Evening with Van Jones.” Organizing and moderating. New College.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thirty Years

 Thirty years ago today I was sworn in as a member of the Florida Bar by Judge Becky Titus. It has been a great career, mostly due to the people I have worked with and the friends I have made. One person who has been with me every step of the way, is Regina Tebrugge, who started as my co-counsel, became my friend, and for these past many years has been my wife. I would also like to thank my first boss, Elliott Metcalfe who was a great friend and employer for 23 of those years. I also must acknowledge my friend and landlord, Mark Lipinski, for all of his support, particularly these last seven years.
The past thirty years have prepared me to take the next step. I am in the process of closing Tebrugge Legal so that I can work full time protecting our constitutional rights and reforming Florida's criminal justice system. I will be ready to provide more information in early July.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ten Years of “Law and Sarasota”

      It was sometime in 2005 when Jan Jung and Art Hardy asked me to accompany them to a meeting with Leanne McIntire at the Education Channel.  The result was that I agreed to host an ongoing series of television programs focused on Sarasota’s legal community.  For the first episode, I handled First Appearances in front of Chief Justice Bob Bennett and then interviewed him afterwards inside the historic courtroom at the old Sarasota courthouse.
      My producer, Bob Gray and I, completed four additional episodes that year with distinguished guests such as Earl Moreland, Charles Williams and Rick DeFuria. We focused on criminal law topics and filmed inside the library at the Public Defender’s Office. Poor Bob would have to tote all of his cameras and microphones and lights into the office for each new episode. At the end of that first season I thought we were done. But the Education Channel liked the program and told me to continue if I could find new quests. At this point we have now filmed about fifty episodes.
      Within the first few years the program won the “public service award” presented by LexisNexis and the National Association of Bar Executives. Along with the award came a donation of a substantial block of free legal research on Lexis that was donated to Gulfcoast Legal Services.  In 2010 we won a grant from the Florida Bar Foundation to allow production of a video outlining the criminal justice system from arrest through trial. The great thing about this video was that as I filmed in English, Varinia Van Ness hosted the Spanish language companion. Both of these videos can still be found on YouTube and on the Sarasota County Bar Association website.
     A couple of years ago the Education Channel moved into its new production headquarters and studio on the campus of Sarasota County Technical Institute. The new studio allowed for a professional upgrade of the entire look of the program. Thanks in part to the generosity of the Sarasota Community Foundation we are now uploading the programs onto YouTube where they can found at TheEdChannel20. There you will find Robert Lincoln discussing code enforcement, Carol Kalish discuss the Affordable Health Care Act, and see Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis visit students at Booker High School.
     So far this year I have filmed episodes featuring Kurt Hoffman discussing the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office, Teri Cromley talking about workman’s compensation and Social Security disability, and Jane Windsor who discussed individualized learning plans for students suffering from learning disabilities.  The program is broadcast on Comcast Channel 20 and Verizon Channel 33 in Sarasota, and is typically shown several times a day. The Education Channel is also broadcast throughout the Sarasota County school system, and it is always cool when the young person bagging my groceries looks up, sees me and says “Law and Sarasota!”
      So I thank the Sarasota County Bar Association and all of my guests for allowing me to spread some legal knowledge throughout our community. If you have an idea for a program, feel free to let me know. 




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I will officiate your marriage in Manatee County, Bradenton Florida.

In honor of marriage equality coming to Florida, and in anticipation of National Marriage Week February 7 – 14, 2015, I am pleased to announce that I now provide marriage services as a licensed Notary Public. My office is conveniently located across the street from the Manatee County Clerk of the Court, and there is a lovely pavilion on the courthouse grounds where ceremonies may be performed.

Here is the view from my office. Please call (941) 544 6151 to schedule your wedding.