Archive for the ‘Courts’ Category
By Spartacus Thrace
As 2013 dawns across America, the Progressive Movement appears to be at the zenith of their power within the federal government and throughout major sectors of American society and culture. Buttressed by decades-long control or domination of the academy, the theater, the press, labor, and the Democratic Party, the Progressives have fundamentally changed the state of the nation by creating a secular utopian statist path as an alternative to the religious individualistic minimalist government path set down by the Founders two centuries ago and expressed in the obligations of the government to the governed they enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The Declaration has long been treated by many in power as an irrelevant historical relic. The radical notion that the Constitution is a “living document” has gained wide adherence across several parts of the societal spectrum, even among those who hold themselves out as experts on matters of constitutional law. America is now governed by a semi-permanent ruling class, engaged in rampant self-entitlement, seeing itself as separate and apart from — and superior to — the governed. The notions of the American melting pot of disparate peoples and American exceptionalism have been lost to Balkanization of the population along the classic imaginary socialist fault lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. The fundamental concept of minimalism — where the power of government is a revocable grant from the governed and the government has only that power and authority necessary to perform the essential duties entrusted to it by the governed — has long been smothered by massive growth in the size, power, and reach of the federal government and the concomitant decrease in individual liberty. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
An issue facing Florida’s voters in the November 2012 election is: Should Barbara J. Pariente, Peggy A. Quince, and R. Fred Lewis each be allowed to keep their jobs as justices on the Florida Supreme Court?
Each is up for a merit retention vote this year, and each has generated considerable controversy with decisions that opponents describe as anti-democratic judicial activism in denigration of constitutional rule of law in Florida. In particular, each has been accused of overstepping their authority in making law, as opposed to interpreting existing law, with far-reaching consequences for the people of the state.
Separation of Powers
As with all other states, Florida has organized its government upon the democratic premise that when a single person or group has too much power, that person or group can become dangerous to the citizens. To prevent such concentration of power, Florida has embraced the trias politica principle espoused by John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu, which separates the government into distinct executive, legislative, and judicial divisions. The Florida constitution also gives each branch certain defined powers not shared with the other branches, a concept knows as “separation of powers.”
Florida’s scheme of separation of powers is set forth in Article II of the state constitution which provides:
The powers of the state government shall be divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches. No person belonging to one branch shall exercise any powers appertaining to either of the other branches unless expressly provided herein.1 Read the rest of this entry »
By Le Corbeaunoir
UPDATE: SB 428 and its House counterpart, HB 1033, died in their respective Judiciary Committees on May 7, 2011.
The 2010 elections were a wakeup call for members of the Florida political elite who both enjoy being in the ruling class and hate the uncertainties of democracy. Some are beginning to devise ways to push back against the popular will when it comes to deciding who is or is not suited to remain on the bench.
Let’s put this in perspective: Imagine that the you and the majority of the voters in a democratic election choose to fire and replace a sitting state trial court judge, appellate court judge, or a supreme court justice as being unfit to serve on the bench any longer. Then imagine that a short time later you and everyone else who voted the same way you did learn that the person you and the majority rejected as not fit to serve on the bench is in fact back on the bench judging cases. Incredibly, this is exactly what could happen if Senate Bill (SB) 428 becomes law. Read the rest of this entry »
By Angry Wasp
While I was at the local K-Mart the other day, I ran into one of my cop friends. He was talking to me about having to go to court two weeks ago to testify in front of some judge about a drunk driver. As he was telling me what happened in court and what he thought of the judge, I realized that I didn’t know much about who the local judges are, how much they are paid, or when they are on the ballot. After talking to several of my friends about this, I got the impression that a lot of people are in the same boat when it comes to knowing anything about our judges. Geez, I thought, this isn’t good with all the crap going on in government today.
So I sat down at the computer to find out what I could. The first thing I found out is that the judiciary is kind of like a secret arm of the government when it comes to finding out about individual judges. There is next to squat out there when it comes to detailed information.
I was able, however, to get a lot of salary information, and I found an interesting national survey of judicial salaries here. I also found the following salary information in the Governor’s FY 2010-2011 Recommended General Appropriations Act, in Section 8, on page 340: Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
It appears that another candidate for the 2012 judicial elections has emerged, almost two years before voting is to begin.
Tom Ramsberger lost the 2010 Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Group 20 race to to Patrice Moore by a vote of 86,704 (51.03%) to 83,200 (48.96%), despite outspending her $59,821.49 to $21,798.20 and having higher name recognition as a result of a brother, Peter Ramsberger, being a serving circuit court judge in Pinellas and Pasco counties. Moore, however, had the endorsement of the St. Petersburg Times and was a more impressive speaker than Ramsberger while out on the stump.
It appears that Ramsberger has not given up and has not shut down his campaign. His content-copyrighted campaign website has now been modified to indicate that he will be running for the seat of an as-yet-unidentified judge who will be retiring in 2012, and to caution visitors not to make contributions until he sets up a campaign finance account later in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
R. Scott Andringa is already running for county court judge, even though the 2012 election is almost two years away. He is running for the seat currently occupied by his father.
Among the elected officials in Pinellas County up for election in 2012 is Judge of the County Court, Group 2, a seat currently occupied by Henry J. “Hank” Andringa, who is expected to retire in 2012. Until now, there has been considerable speculation as to who might run for this seat when it becomes vacant. That speculation ended December 13, 2010 when, with little fanfare, Andringa’s son, Attorney R. Scott Andringa, announced that he has entered the race to succeed his father when the next election is held, on November 6, 2012.
Robert Scott Andringa is a 1986 graduate of St. Petersburg High School, a 1990 graduate of Florida State University, and a 1992 graduate of Stetson Law School. He was admitted to the practice of law in Florida in 1993. He has worked as a prosecutor from 1993 to 2004 for the 6th Judicial Circuit in New Port Richey and from 2004 to 2006 in the 16th Judicial Circuit in Plantation Key. He is a solo practitioner doing business in Largo, Florida as R. Scott Andringa, Esquire, LLC, and Suncoast Arbitration & Mediation, Inc., handling administrative, civil, and criminal cases. He has been admitted to practice by The Florida Bar, the U.S. Middle District of Florida, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He also is a Florida Supreme Court-certified mediator in Circuit Civil, County, Family and Foreclosure cases. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
Elections do have consequences, and one palpable consequence of the November 2 election is that the legislative and judicial branches of government in Pinellas County have gotten more conservative, and more Republican.
In the legislative races, all Republican incumbents were returned and two long-serving “moderate” Democrat incumbents, Janet Long and Bill Heller, lost their seats in the House of Representatives to conservative Republican challengers Larry Ahern and Jeff Brandes. The election of Larry Ahern is particularly significant in that he was in a three-way race against a moderate female Democrat with vastly superior financial support for her campaign and a female candidate from the so-called “TEA Party” who some observers believe was a ringer who entered the race with with the sole purpose of drawing votes away from Ahern. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
The Sixth Judicial Circuit Group 27 (Pasco and Pinellas counties) runoff election to be determined on November 2, 2010 is a race between experienced attorneys Keith Meyer and Jeff O’Brien, who came in first and second, respectively, in a four-candidate field competing in the August 24th primary election. According to official results of the August 24th primary election, Meyer came in first with 52,327 votes (31.1% of the total cast), and O’Brien came in second with 45,216 votes (26.8% of the total cast). The bottom two candidates, LeAnne Lake (28,666 votes or 17% of the total) and Kelly McKnight (42,219 votes or 25.1% of the total) were eliminated. It is because none of the candidates received in excess of 50% of the vote that the top two vote-getters are in a runoff election. An analysis of the primary election results for all of the Sixth Circuit judicial candidates has appeared in an earlier post on this blog.
L. Keith Meyer, Jr. received his B.A. with Honors in History from Florida State University in 1999 and his law degree from Florida State University in 2000. He began his legal career serving for a few years as a prosecutor in the Office of the State Attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Pasco and Pinellas Counties), where he worked in both the Misdemeanor and Felony Divisions. After leaving the State Attorney’s Office Meyer went into private practice, handling a broad range of criminal and civil cases. He has no military experience. His civic involvement predates his departure from the State Attorney’s Office and includes serving as a Board Member of Religious Community Services, Inc. (which includes a food bank, a shelter for abused spouses, and homeless assistance), being an active Rotarian, and various pro bono work.
Keith Meyer has been running nonstop for this office since September 18, 2009, when he filed with the Florida Secretary of State. He has a campaign website and a Facebook page, and he is endorsed by State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Public Defender Bob Dillinger, Clerk of Courts Ken Burke, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodges 10 and 43, the St. Petersburg Times, and scores of prominent citizens in Pasco and Pinellas counties. According to campaign finance records, in the period September 18, 2009 through October 8, 2010 Meyer received $59,873.75 in monetary contributions, and $9,896.99 in in-kind donations, had no loans, and had campaign expenditures of $56,538.93. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
The Sixth Judicial Circuit Group 18 (Pasco and Pinellas counties) runoff election to be determined on November 2, 2010 is a race between experienced attorneys Patricia “Trish” Muscarella and Kathryn Marie Welsh. Muscarella and Welsh were the top vote-getters in the August 24th primary election. In that race, fellow candidate Edward Liebling was the bottom vote-getter and so was disqualified. An analysis of the primary election results for all of the Sixth Circuit judicial candidates has appeared in an earlier post on this blog.
Patricia “Trish” Muscarella
Patricia “Trish” Muscarella, is one of two candidates running for Circuit Court Judge, Sixth Circuit, Group 19 (Pasco and Pinellas Counties). She was born and raised in Pinellas County. Muscarella has been actively involved in community service since she was a student at St. Cecilia Elementary School in Clearwater, where she was a VISTA volunteer in a summer reading program for underprivileged children. She is the daughter of Frank Muscarella, former United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. She is a 1970 graduate of Clearwater High School, a 1975 graduate of the University of Florida (B.A. in Special Education), and a 1984 graduate of Stetson College of Law. On June 7, 1985, she was admitted to the practice of law in Florida.
Muscarella’s only prior experience running for public office was in 1990, when she was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. During her term as State Representative, Muscarella was chosen to be the leader of the 1991 Republican freshman class and served on the Insurance, Natural Resources, Community Affairs, and Ethics and Elections Committees. In 1992, she ran for United States Congress as a moderate, but lost in the Republican primary to incumbent Mike Bilirakis. She thereafter left politics and concentrated on building up her law practice and related businesses. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
For those of you who have been frustrated in your efforts to find out the personal philosophies of candidates running for judge, here’s a bit of a tease, with the promise of much more to come.
The Conservative Institute for Public Awareness (CIPA), a group originally created by former U.S. Congressman Mike Bilirakis, hosted a judicial candidates forum on June 1, 2010. The forum was well-attended and was videotaped in its entirety. It was a rare and very informative event but, nonetheless, it did not get much publicity outside the membership of CIPA. Until now.
In the race for Sixth Circuit Court Judge, Group 18 (Pasco and Pinellas counties), the candidates are Patricia “Trish” Muscarella (who came out ahead in the primary and is endorsed by all major law enforcement groups, the State Attorney and the Public Defender) and Kathryn Marie Welsh (who came in second and was endorsed in the primary by the St. Petersburg Times). When asked to name their favorite United States Supreme Court Justice, Muscarella expressed her admiration of Justice Antonin Scalia, but Welsh was almost giddy as she gushed about then-nominee Elena Kagan. Here’s what each said in response to the question (Hat tip to CIPA and Joe Sekula):
The first value of this little clip is that it is unmistakable that Welsh identifies with liberal judicial activism.
The clip is also a valuable indication of Welsh’s aptitude for situational awareness. First of all, one has to wonder if Welsh actually heard the question, which was directed at sitting justices, and not nominees. Regardless, it was an informative answer for those conservative voters concerned over the direction the country is headed. One must, however, wonder if Welsh understood that she was in a room full of conservatives and that she was praising a radical leftist hand-picked by President Obama to protect his statist agenda in the United States Supreme Court, and whose nomination those conservatives to whom Welsh was speaking uniformly and vigorously opposed.
With Trish Muscarella stating her admiration of Justice Scalia, the clip also shows that there is a rare, remarkably clear, choice between the candidates for Circuit Court Judge in Group 18, one that conservatives (and moderates) overlook at their peril.