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Florida’s law enforcement agencies will be represented by two local officials who have been appointed to a Presidential commission. 

Attorney General William Barr announced the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Wednesday, which looks to modernize solutions for reducing modern crime in America.

The Department of Justice is awarding the St. Petersburg Police Department a grant to create the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force.

ProCon.org

Siding with Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Supreme Court decided Thursday that a state law requiring payment of “legal financial obligations” properly carried out a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.

A decades-old sex abuse investigation into a retired Sarasota pastor is raising questions about Florida's statute of limitations law and how it affects a victim's search for justice.

When police arrested Henry Porter earlier this month, they said they knew about his alleged victims for years. But the statute of limitations prevented them from making an arrest.

Westcoast Center for Human Development Church with Henry Porter mugshot inset
KERRY SHERIDAN/WUSF; SARASOTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

A man who led a Sarasota church for more than 40 years has been charged with an additional count of sexual battery of a child under 12. Police say the second charge stems from abuse a victim says took place between April and November 1990. 

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.

A slew of criminal justice reform bills will be up this 2020 legislative session. A number of them will get a hearing during the first week lawmakers return to Tallahassee.

A total of 14 victims have come forward, alleging that former bishop Henry Lee Porter, Sr. 72, sexually abused them, in a case that detectives began investigating 30 years ago, the Sarasota Police Department said Wednesday. 

Local elected officials in Florida could bring guns to government meetings, but people appearing before them would remain unable to carry weapons, under a bill filed Wednesday.

When Florida A&M University professor Barton Christner walks the halls he feels as if there’s a shadow looming over his head. Recently, his mugshot began circulating among students in the School of Journalism. Christner is among thousands of Floridians trying to remove a digital tether that clouds his reputation as a father, professional and instructor. A Florida law passed in 2017 sought to crack down on the mugshot publishing industry but it hasn’t worked as intended.

No matter who does your taxes, once you sign on the dotted line, you are responsible for them. 

Ryan Thompson of the IRS said tax fraud is rampant this time of year. And there are ways to spot would-be crooks. 

Felons voting rights
Daniel Rivero WLRN

A series of polls from the St. Leo University Polling Institute shows Floridians deeply divided on some of the major issues that the state will face in the upcoming year. A slight majority of those polled favor giving felons who can't pay their fees the right to vote.

The number of candidates for two seats on the Florida Supreme Court was updated to 32 on Thursday, as an initial list did not include an applicant who had submitted her information by a Christmas Eve deadline.

Three adults were killed in an apparent murder-suicide on Christmas Eve while four young children were inside the home, authorities in Lakeland said.

The children were safely removed from the home after the shooting Tuesday night, Lakeland Police Capt. Ed Cain told reporters.

Describing the law as an “unnecessary and unconstitutional overreach,” cities and counties argue that an appeals court should reject a 2011 state law that threatens tough penalties if local elected officials approve gun regulations.

Many Floridians will spend part of this week tearing into presents, sipping eggnog or gazing at blinking Christmas lights as they gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays.

But some top-notch lawyers and judges will be polishing their resumes as they try to get appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. Wannabes for two seats on the high court face a Tuesday deadline to submit applications.

Felons voting rights
Daniel Rivero WLRN

Felons in a federal lawsuit who have completed their time behind bars but can’t afford to pay court-ordered fees and fines can continue to register to vote but cannot cast ballots yet, under an order issued this week by a federal judge.

The confessed Parkland shooter was back in a Broward County courtroom Thursday afternoon for his last scheduled hearing of 2019. He wore large glasses and sat with his attorneys in the courtroom.

Nikolas Cruz's trial will not begin in January of 2020 as it was scheduled to. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer postponed the start of the trial until at least the summer of 2020.

Tallahassee is police-chief-less after the man hired for the job rescinded his acceptance of the offer. City Manager Reese Goad says the move was unexpected, but City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow says the city shouldn't be surprised. 

The Hillsborough State Attorney's office is starting a program aimed at giving convicted felons back their right to vote. And it revolves around money.

Amendment 4 was passed by voters in 2018. It allows people with felony convictions to regain their voting rights after they complete their sentences. But state lawmakers tacked on a provision that requires them to pay off existing fees first. So many ex-felons who can't afford it, can't vote.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office has arrested 124 people in an operation that targeted human trafficking, prostitution, and the sexual abuse of children.

The six-day effort, dubbed “Operation Santa's Naughty List,” sought to help victims of human trafficking who may have been forced into prostitution.

Florida wildlife officials moved quickly Wednesday to try to close a “loophole” that allowed a citizen of Saudi Arabia to legally buy a handgun and ammunition used to kill three people Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The confessed Parkland shooter was in a Broward County courtroom Tuesday for a hearing. 

 

St. Petersburg's assistant police chief is returning home to lead the police department in Tallahassee.

Antonio Gilliam, 41, was chosen among three finalists Wednesday and named Tallahassee’s new chief of police.

Two people texting on mobile phones
Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Florida’s top law enforcement agency did not have safeguards in place to ensure text messages sent and received by its employees were retained as required by state law, according to a new audit.

Pointing to a “hierarchical relationship” with local governments, the state has asked an appeals court to uphold a 2011 law that has threatened tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations. 

Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, ousted following the Parkland high school massacre, is suing over his removal from office.

Joe Redner
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

The Florida Supreme Court has refused to wade into a dispute about whether prominent Tampa strip-club owner Joe Redner should be allowed to grow his own medical marijuana to help fight lung cancer.

Updated Sunday at 12:43 p.m. ET

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from the hospital Sunday, two days after she was admitted for chills and fever.

"She is home and doing well," the court said in a statement.

Ginsburg checked in to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Friday.

Law
Army.mil

The Florida Bar has opened an investigation of a New York lawyer who it says may have been practicing in Florida without a license.

The Bar’s investigation of Stuart Finkelstein stems from federal charges this week alleging that he filed 300 unauthorized lawsuits in Florida and New York.

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