Category Archives: Civil

Man Goes to Jail for a Facebook Like

A Pasco judge found a New Port Richey man in contempt of court for liking a Facebook post: someone had put his ex wife’s picture on a “father’s rights” page alleging that she was abusive. The judge found that he had violated her order against disparaging or threatening the other party in the family law case stemming from their divorce and custody fight. She initially sentenced him to 60 days, but relented a few days later for time served. The limits on social media, and regarding First Amendment ramifications, are something the courts have to grapple with more and more.

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A Dose of Basic Copyright Law

bby driver

Deborah and Baby

It shouldn’t have to be said, but if you use someone else’s work: you need to get permission. The Hollywood Reporter’s legal roundup today included two copyright cases that probably shouldn’t have had to be litigated. The first was in regard to Baby Drive, the excellent 2017 action film from Edgar Wright that makes extensive use of music to drive the story. It’s great, and it’s up for a few Oscars. The main love interest is named Debora, played by Lily James, and so the film naturally included a 1968 song called “Debora” by T.Rex. Except they didn’t clear it first. The oversight was discovered when they went to get permission to use it on the Soundtrack, and the son of the songwriter sued Sony (T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan had passed away). The matter was resolved at mediation, suggesting that his heir received just compensation for using the song.

 

And further down in that same article, THR reports that Beyoncé settled with the estate of Anthony Barré, whose spoken word recorded under the name “Messy Mya” was used in her hit song “Formation“. Both of these instances are pretty straightforward copyright infringements, and I suspect the fault is not on Beyoncé or Wright, rather it was likely the studios who failed to get clearance and to compensate the original artists before going forward. Both suits have been settled, and you can resume listening to “Formation” and watching Baby Driver” guilt-free.

Seriously, go watch Baby Driver if you haven’t, it’s excellent.

I guess I’ll throw in a little criminal law- if Baby had been charged in Florida state court (the movie is set in Atlanta, GA), he would’ve been facing mandatory life in prison without parole for Felony Murder (even though he didn’t do the shootings). Regardless of the people who spoke up for him, the movie would not have ended on a positive note if it had been set in Miami…

FHP Troopers told to Write More Tickets – Allegations of Quotas

DUI Operation in Lee County Friday

The Tampa Bay Times has uncovered an email from an FHP supervisor instructing his troopers to write more tickets. “The patrol wants to see two citations each our…” reads the email from Major Mark Welch. He and FHP deny this is a quota, which would be in violation of state law: but this is a quota. He sets a minimum number of tickets he expects his underlings to write per hour. That’s exactly a quota. The fact that he says “This is not a quota” does not redefine what a quota is.

 

To make matters worse, there may be benefits tied to the number of tickets officers write. Troopers in Miami-Dade were given additional weekend passes when they met ticket-writing goals earlier this year. FHP ended that policy when it was exposed. It seems this new quota is tied to ‘SOAR’, an overtime program, though that program appears to incentivize them to work more hours, not to inflate their ticket numbers. Big brother is most definitely watching.

Jail Mistreatment Suit from Charlotte County is Underway

The civil rights trial of a jail mistreatment suit from Charlotte County got started in Federal Court in Fort Myers, today. Amy Bennett Williams is covering the case for the News-Press.

Watch for me on ABC-7 This Evening

I just did an interview with Stacey Deffenbaugh for ABC-7, discussing why the young man charged with causing a death after failing to stop for a school bus is in civil court and not criminal court. The story will likely air at 4 and/or 5 pm on ABC-7, and hopefully my comments are included.

Here’s an earlier story about the court hearing this morning. The family was understandably angry, due to the tragic loss of their son…

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/33047429/judge-to-decide-fate-of-man-accused-in-crash-that-killed-teen

The court was certainly not saying the teen’s life was only worth $1000, that was the maximum penalty permitted. This ruling does not preclude the victim’s family from proceeding on a wrongful death claim, which is likely to be worth many thousands of dollars. Nothing can take away the tragedy of the loss of life in these types of cases.

Gold Fleet of Cars Get Parking Tickets

gold car ticket.jpg

Gold Lamborghini with parking tickets

No matter how rich you are, even if you have a gold fleet of supercars, you still have to obey the rules of the road. A Saudi millionaire who made news when he brought four Gold-Plated cars to London made the news again when they all got tickets where he had parked them on the street. Something tells me the guy who buys multiple cars that cost more than half a million dollars isn’t going to be worried about a couple hundred dollars in tickets.

Also, the cars don’t look that good.

gold car fleet

Gaudy

 

Florida Needs a law Requiring Bodily Injury Insurance

A friend was recently in an accident which was not her fault, and in which she was injured, but thankfully not severely. They just received a letter from the at-fault party’s insurance company saying, sorry, your injuries aren’t covered. Which is perfectly legal in Florida… and perfectly ridiculous.

While Florida requires a minimum of insurance to cover one’s self, there is no requirement for other drivers that might negligently or recklessly injure you or your passengers to get insurance to cover your injuries. Jeff Garvin, another local personal injury attorney, did a great op-ed on it in the News-Press a few weeks ago. I literally had the article sitting on my desk when I heard about my friend’s situation. It is past time to do something about it, and I encourage Florida to join 48 of our 50 states and require personal injury protection. And I will specifically pass on Mr. Garvin’s call to action: 1. Get uninsured motorist coverage for yourself if you don’t have it, and 2. Contact your legislator and encourage them to change the law.

Mr. Garvin’s entire piece can be found here.

Find your representative here.

UPDATE: clarification in wording, as FL requires drivers to get minimum insurance for their own injuries, but not for injuries that you cause to other people.