Monthly Archives: May 2016

Another Man Fleeing Cops Bitten by an Alligator

frequent gatorsIt seems this is becoming an all-too common trend for Florida Man. A Lakeland man lost part of an arm to a gator bite the other day, after jumping in a lake when his mom called the cops regarding a domestic disturbance. Apparently, this lake, which was near his mom’s house, even had a sign posted warning people about gators in the water.

Don’t run from the cops, kids. We have seen several cases that were even worse than this young man who lost three-quarters of his forearm. Not worth it. For more, check it out some previous stories, here and here on Crimcourts.

Have a fun, gator-bite-free weekend!

Drunk Driving Arrests Are Going Down, but Are the Roads Safer?

  • Drunk Driving Numbers Are Falling in many Jurisdictions
  • Ride Sharing Programs Claims Some Credit
  • Critics Blame Lack of Enforcement

Ride sharing apps were in the news this week when Uber and Lyft decided to pull out of serving Austin, TX due to strict local ordinances. This may make the streets less safe, because a great deal of the business for these apps are taking people home late at night and on weekends: providing a convenient alternative to driving for many people who have been out on the town and possibly drinking.

Lyft stache

The old Lyft ‘Stache

The ride sharing apps are quick to take credit for drops in DUI arrest numbers. Arrest numbers indicate declines in Florida cities, including the Miami and Tampa areas. Law enforcement agencies in Tampa were willing to give some credit to ride sharing, but also indicated there had been less enforcement going on due to shortages and other factors. MADD says there has been a major shortage of enforcement in Dade County jurisdictions, but the drop in arrests is likely due to a variety of factors, ranging from ride-sharing to less overtime for officers than they used to get on DUI cases.

Hopefully the decline in arrests is indicative of less people drinking and driving, and keeping the roads safer for all of us. If Uber and Lyft help, we can all get behind that. The numbers so far certainly favor the increase accessibility of ride-sharing apps.

Man Cited for Alligator Parts Scattered Around Vehicle

alligator parts.jpg

photo courtesy FWC

Working to be your leading Alligator-law related blog, we bring you this story from the FWC. FWC officers stopped a man driving a truck through a wildlife management area to check for his day-use pass, only to find dismembered alligator parts stashed around his vehicle. Upon questioning, the man admitted he had recently killed the alligator without permission.

Alligators can now be legally hunted in Florida, like deer and other animals, but alligator hunts are closely regulated. Know your laws before you hunt… or fish: Florida takes wildlife management seriously.

And be sure of what you’re doing. Don’t be like Bryan Rohm. He was out hunting an alligator with his son (legally!) and thought he had killed it. He was sorely mistaken, and when he brought it in the boat, the alligator bit his thumb and jumped back into the water. He had shot the gator twice with the bang-stick, an alligator hunting device (basically it delivers a shotgun blast at point blank range), and wasn’t able to stop the thing. Alligators are badasses.

Florida’s New Death Penalty Declared Unconstitutional

Florida’s Death Penalty laws are once again in disarray.

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The Supreme Court

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the procedure Florida was using to determine when the death penalty should be imposed, in the Hurst case. That meant that there was functionally no death penalty in the state of Florida. The legislature moved quickly to amend the law to establish a new procedure to prosecute the death penalty in Florida, and a new version was signed into law in March. Now, all that work is out the window…

Judge Milton Hirsch, a circuit judge in Miami-Dade, has ruled that the new procedure is also unconstitutionally inadequate. The Florida procedure does not require a unanimous jury verdict before the death penalty can be imposed. Florida and Alabama are the only states that did not require unanimity, and that specific issue was not discussed by the Supreme Court in the Hurst case. Ultimately, the issue is likely to be appealed to the Florida Supreme court, and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court again, but Judge Hirsch’s opinion is the first to address the issue since the new procedure was passed.

Hirsch was critical of the law, finding that the changes were not enough. He wrote, “Arithmetically the difference between twelve and ten is slight, but the question before me is not a question of arithmetic. It is a question of constitutional law. It is a question of justice.”

Timothy Hurst

Timothy Hurst, currently on Death Row

Meanwhile, the other issue up in the air is whether the Hurst decision is retroactive. That is, are all of the Floridians on death row entitled to new sentencing hearings?- 390 of them are currently on death row. While they would still be subject to a new death sentence, a ruling finding that Hurst is retroactive would likely spare a great number of inmates that the state would not wish to retry their sentencing hearings.

While it seems to be a no-brainer that if the procedure used to impose death was unconstitutional that the sentences could not stand, the courts have often held that these types of rulings are procedural, and do not apply retroactively. It will be interesting to see what the Florida Supreme Court does on the issue. Until then, Florida executions will have to be on hold. The Florida Supreme Court recently heard arguments regarding whether Hurst will mandate that he, and many other similarly situated cases will be reduced to life without parole.