Buy Justice for Children
Florida’s Sunshine Law is a series of statutes requiring open government and access to public meetings. SLC filed suit on behalf of a citizen activist to challenge amendments to a City of St. Petersburg ordinance, alleging that the decision to amend the ordinance improperly took place at an attorney-client meeting closed to the public. The circuit court agreed that the City failed to provide notice to the public of the first reading of the ordinance and voided the amendments to the ordinance for this violation of Florida law. The City appealed, and our client cross-appealed the portion of the court’s order that found the City did not exceed its legal authority when it discussed amending the ordinance during the closed session. The First Amendment Foundation, the state’s premiere open government organization, filed an amicus brief urging the court to hold that the City exceeded its statutory authority by engaging in deliberations to amend the ordinance at a closed meeting. Posted February 2017.
When the City of Fort Lauderdale arrested more than a dozen individuals in 2014 for sharing food with homeless individuals in city parks, it sparked an international outcry. SLC took the City to court, filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of the political advocacy group Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs (FNB), part of the international Food Not Bombs Movement. The group shares food in a centrally located downtown Fort Lauderdale park as an expression of the political message that hunger and poverty can be ended if society’s resources are redirected from the military and war to, instead, providing food as a human right for all. In September of last year, the District Court ruled against the group, holding that food sharing is not protected under the First Amendment. FNB appealed this decision to the Eleventh Circuit and SLC recently filed its Initial Brief, arguing that that the District Court erred in failing to recognize the significant history of food sharing as a form of symbolic communication and expressive conduct. FNB argues that this message, and the use of food sharing to convey this message, should find protection under the First Amendment. FNB chapters from across the country petitioned the court to file an amicus brief in support of this argument because this case has the potential to impact similar activities in Florida and around the country. A second amicus brief was filed on behalf of legal scholars due to the importance of the legal issues at stake in the appeal. Posted January 2017.
The Second Judicial Circuit Court issued an order that ignores the overwhelming weight of the evidence that the public education system in Florida is failing more than a million students. Even though Florida’s constitution is the strongest educational mandate of all the states, the court incorrectly concluded that the constitution has no judicially manageable standards and that the court is prohibited from ordering relief due to separation of powers. Southern Legal Counsel plans to appeal this decision and continue to seek a high quality education for all children in Florida. Read Final Judgment and Appendix of Facts. Posted May 25, 2016
In Citizens for Strong Schools, Inc. v. Fla. State Bd. of Educ., originally filed in 2009, Plaintiffs allege that the State is breaching its constitutional duty to provide a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education, as required by Article IX, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution. The Court conducted a non-jury trial from March 14 to April 8, 2016. The trial was televised and the archives can be viewed at www.thefloridachannel.org. Plaintiffs introduced evidence from across the state showing that school districts do not have sufficient funding to provide the conditions for a high quality education for all students, with emphasis on children of all races, from low income backgrounds, with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness and English Language Learners. Read a Synopsis of the 273-page Proposed Order filed by Plaintiffs on Apr. 27, 2016. The Court’s order is expected by June 30, 2016. Posted May 12, 2016
In April 2016, SLC settled a suit against the City of Daytona Beach on behalf of a couple who were arrested and trespassed from a city park for providing food to homeless people as part of their ministry. After the City dropped the charges, it denied the couple a permit to continue their ministry in public parks. The federal suit alleged that the ordinances on food sharing violate the First (freedom of religion) and Fourteenth (due process) Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. In the settlement agreement, the City agreed to change its policies and procedures to permit our clients to share food, rescind the trespass notices that were improperly issued in the City Parks and to issue directives to its police officers that no City trespass warnings can be issued in City parks at this time. SLC co-counseled with the Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida. Here is a link to news coverage: http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20160323/news/160329776. Posted May 5, 2016.
SLC filed Parrales v. Dudek, a federal court action with Disability Rights Florida and Nancy Wright, who is lead counsel. On December 24, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle denied the State of Florida’s motion to dismiss. This order allows plaintiffs to go forward in the case and proceed to a trial set to begin in September 2016.
Specifically, the Court ruled that plaintiffs have alleged sufficient injury to have standing to sue AHCA. And that plaintiffs have stated a claim under the ADA that, due to AHCA’s ineffective implementation and oversight of the LTC Waiver Program, plaintiffs would have to enter a nursing home in order to receive the Medicaid benefits to which they are entitled. Read the Order here. Posted December 2015.
SLC'S NEW WEB DESIGN WAS GENEROUSLY DONATED BY TONY PECORA AT NORTHC CONSULTING. THANK YOU TONY!