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Amendment 4

Court: Florida Can't Implement Amendment 4, Bar Felons From Vote Over Fines, Fees

22 hours ago
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

A U.S. appeals court opinion unanimously upheld a Florida-based federal judge’s preliminary injunction ruling that the state cannot restrict ex-felons from voting based on financial ability to pay fines and fees.

DeSantis' Lawyers Face Tough Amendment 4 Questions From Appeals Court Judges

Jan 29, 2020
GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE

U.S. appeals court judges challenged lawyers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with tough questions Tuesday about limiting the voting rights of felons who have not yet paid their criminal court fines.

Weeks Before Registration Deadline, Amendment 4 Is Still A Mess In Florida

Jan 27, 2020

Lee Hoffman lost his right to vote back in 1978.

He got it back when Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 restoring the voting rights to nearly 1.4 million ex-felons.

Felons voting rights
Daniel Rivero WLRN

As a legal battle continues over a constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to felons in Florida, a federal appellate court Friday ended a separate, bitterly fought challenge to the state’s clemency process.

Florida passed an amendment in 2018, promising to restore voting rights for over a million Floridians with felony convictions. But that hope turned to confusion soon after.

The state Legislature followed up with a law clarifying that in order to get their voting rights back, felons needed to pay off all fines and fees related to their convictions. Hundreds of millions of dollars in fines are owed across the state, including $278 million in Miami-Dade County alone.

On an afternoon in November, 17 people from across Miami-Dade County gathered in a Miami courtroom to have their voting rights restored. The hearing would be an early indication that party politics are playing a role in how a controversial state law is being rolled out.

State and federal courts are expected in 2020 to grapple with high-profile Florida issues, ranging from felons’ voting rights to medical marijuana.

Here are snapshots of five key legal issues to watch in the new year:

Democrats Criticize GOP On Amendment 4

Dec 15, 2019
tweet from Nikki Fried
twitter

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state’s top elected Democrat, and a handful of Democratic presidential candidates spent time Friday on Twitter slamming Gov. Ron DeSantis over the way the state is carrying out last year’s Amendment 4.

Ocala dramatically blocked its newly elected councilman from taking office Tuesday night over a 33-year-old felony cocaine conviction. The case is believed to be the first time a Florida politician has been disqualified after an election because of serious crimes.

A federal judge on Tuesday excoriated lawyers representing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, accusing the state of trying to "run out the clock" to keep felons from voting in next year's elections.

Ocala Council Election Thrown Into Turmoil Over Winning Candidate’s Felony Arrests

Nov 29, 2019

The outcome of last week’s council election in Ocala was thrown into turmoil Tuesday amid a formal investigation by the city into whether the winning candidate might be ineligible to serve because of felony drug charges filed against him more than 33 years ago.

An Ex-Felon In Florida Ran For Office. Was It Legal?

Nov 26, 2019
Samuel David Jones sits on a golf cart
ANGEL KENNEDY/FRESH TAKE FLORIDA

A retired handyman who served 16 months in prison quietly ran for public office earlier this month in a small town, exposing divisions in Florida about whether ex-felons can be elected without going through the governor’s clemency process or receiving a pardon.

Cheers erupted in a Miami-Dade County courtroom on Friday, as more than a dozen people with felony convictions had their right to vote restored by a judge.

The mass court hearing was part of a brand new process created by the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, along with Miami-Dade’s offices of the State Attorney, the Public Defender, and the Clerk of Courts.

The Florida Supreme Court began considering Wednesday whether a voter-approved constitutional amendment restoring the voting rights of felons who complete their sentences means they also have to pay court-ordered fines, fees and restitution.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee has sent a memo to county elections supervisors with direction about complying with a federal judge’s ruling on felons’ voting rights --- but questions remain about how the state will move forward. 

On Friday's program, we took a closer look at the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, it’s ties to Florida, and two new University of North Florida (UNF) polls. 

A federal judge issued a ruling Friday temporarily blocking a Republican-backed Florida law that barred some felons from voting because of their inability to pay fines and other legal debts.

Amendment 4 restored voting rights to more than a million Florida residents with a felony conviction.

Calling the process “an administrative nightmare,” a federal judge on Tuesday urged the Florida Legislature to revamp a state law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that restores voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.

A federal judge is considering whether Florida lawmakers exceeded their authority by requiring former felons to pay fines and settle other legal debts as a condition of regaining their right to vote.

On Monday, a major hearing is set to take place in Tallahassee that will set the tone of a challenge to a Florida law that opponents have called a “poll tax.”

Florida's Republican governor on Friday asked the state's high court to rule on whether convicted felons must pay all fines and fees before getting their voting rights restored in a move that competes with ongoing litigation in federal court on that same question.

Federal Judge Mark Walker has recused himself from a key elections lawsuit after a defendant on the case hired a law firm that employs Walker's wife.

The first lawsuit concerning a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis requiring convicted felons to pay court fees and fines before they can register to vote has ties to the Tampa Bay area. 

Disability attorney Michael Steinberg of Tampa filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kelvin Jones, a disabled veteran and former prisoner, almost immediately after DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7066 into law June 28. It has already been combined with a number of other similar cases. 

A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Florida Secretary of State and ten county Supervisors of Elections across the peninsula, in what amounts to the first major legal challenge to a controversial bill that was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature to require former felons pay all fines and fees before being able to vote.

Floridians approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to most felons in November.  In May, Florida lawmakers passed a law requiring them to repay all financial penalties incurred at sentencing before they can register.

When Amendment 4 passed last November, many people thought it would give over a million people with felony convictions the right to vote in Florida. 

DeSantis To Sign Felons’ Voting Measure

May 8, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he will sign a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights are restored. 

ProCon.org

Seeking to carry out a November constitutional amendment, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored, an issue that’s been a sticking point as lawmakers grappled with one of this year’s most controversial pieces of legislation. 

Two big criminal justice reform bills are moving through the Florida Legislature. Backers of the similar bills in both chambers are going through negotiations down the stretch to position a final measure for passage.

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