Articles Posted in Broward County Courthouse News

Prosecutors have declined to press charges against a 50-year-old man who shot a 33-year-old outside a nightclub in March, saying the shooting was justified under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. firearm1.jpg

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know that the law has gained a great deal of notoriety in the last year due to the Trayvon Martin case, in which the 16-year-old black male was shot by white/Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in northern Florida. Advocacy groups decried the subsequent decision by police not to file charges, citing the “Stand Your Ground” law. A special prosecutor was eventually appointed in that case, and Zimmerman is now facing charges.

But “Stand Your Ground” has historically been seen as a defense to physical assault or homicide that occurs at or near one’s home. It isn’t typically applied to bar-room brawls, but this case shows that in certain circumstances, it can be.

Coincidentally, this incident occurred in March, the same month Zimmerman shot Martin.

In this case, the Sun Sentinel reports, the older man fired his gun outside of Mangos nightclub, after the younger man attacked him physically. According to Broward County Sheriff’s deputies, the older man’s two teenage sons were waiting to meet up with their dad when a 33-year-old walked by and tossed a used tissue at their car. When the boys met up with their father, he walked with them inside the club to demand an apology. It’s not clear if they got it, but the man and his two sons then left, him heading in one direction and his sons in another.

However, the tissue-tosser soon followed the older man across the street. Once there, he stripped off his shirt, a recognized signal that he was prepared to start a physical fight.

The older man warned the younger to stop, keep away from him and that he was armed with a gun. That reportedly did not stop the younger man, who then tackled the older man to the ground and began barraging him with punches. Witnesses reported that the younger man was “really hurting” the older man. At that point, the older man reached for his gun and fired a single shot at the younger man’s chest.

The older man reportedly had a concealed weapons permit and remained at the scene to speak to police, who noted he had multiple bruises and dried blood near his nose.

Prosecutors, in declining to file charges against the older man, cited too the mens’ sizes – the older man was 5’7, while the younger man was 6’1 and nearly 240 pounds.

The “Stand Your Ground Law” is located in Florida Statute 776.013. It states that if a person is held in reasonable fear of imminent peril of great bodily harm to himself or herself or another person, they are justified in taking action that may cause death or great bodily harm. There are multiple stipulations in the law, but that’s essentially the crux of it.

If you have questions about whether your case may fall under the Stand Your Ground statute, we can help.
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It appears as though the Hollywood City Commission has made some tough decisions at the commission meeting today. Thirteen Hollywood Police Officers have been terminated as well as imposing a ten percent pay cut for all other remaining officers. Additionally, it appears as though the City Commission cut their own salaries by ten percent. Needless to say, the budget cuts come after the City Commission learned that it faced a $10 million dollar budget shortfall rather than the anticipated $8.5 million shortfall.

It has been alleged by the Police and Firefighter Unions that the City Commission has engaged in unlawful negotiations by failing to provide any documentation showing a “financial urgency.”
According to Stephanie Szeto, a Hollywood resident and Police Officer; “we don’t have enough police officers and its getting to be a dangerous city.”

There are many dangers associated with reducing any police force. The obvious danger is that crime may rise due to less police presence. Additionally, without the proper amount of police officers, it is reasonable to conclude that criminal investigations may suffer due to lack of resources. This is especially troubling in cases where a proper investigation would have lead investigators to find evidence of innocence rather than guilt.
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The soggy Broward County Courthouse will reopen Monday, a week after a burst water pipe caused extensive damage to the aging building.

Jurors are to report as scheduled, court officials said. Anyone who was supposed to report for jury duty this past week should not go to the courthouse and instead wait to be contacted by the Clerk of Court’s Office.
While most of the downtown Fort Lauderdale courthouse will be up and running, the building’s phone system won’t be. Sunday night’s burst pipe on the second floor of the Clerk of Court’s Office drenched the building’s communications center, knocking out the phone lines to both the courthouse and the Broward Main Jail.
More than 14,000 court files were damaged and an outside company has been hired to dry them out, Forman said. Courthouse officials have estimated the flooding caused $1.2 million in damage.

I put this article on the blog for my clients and the general public who may be asking themselves, “do I need to go to court tomorrow?” The answer is yes. Last week the Broward County Fort Lauderdale Courthouse was closed due to a water main leak that has destroyed many files. This seems to be a common occurrence at the Broward County Fort Lauderdale Courthouse. It was only months ago that the Courthouse was closed due to an earlier flood.

When something like this happens it makes you wonder what kind of backup systems if any are being used at the Broward County Clerk’s Office.

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