Legal Report-January General Counsel, Trela J. White
- State of Florida v. Richard T. Catalano, et al.,
Case Number SC11-1166. Loud Car Stereo Law.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that Section 315.3045 of the Florida Statutes is unconstitutional. This statute made it illegal to blast loud music from a car stereo. The Court held that the law violated free speech for several reasons, including that it exempted vehicles used for business or political purposes. The court called the law "overbroad and an impermissible content-based restriction."
- Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics: Recent Advisory Opinions
RQO 13-001: The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics (the “COE”) reviewed whether an advisory board member, who worked as a coastal engineer and whose engineering firm served as the exclusive engineer for the Florida Inland Navigation District (the “District”), was prohibited from serving on a city marine advisory board. The marine advisory board is strictly advisory and makes recommendations to the city council concerning issues related to waterways within the city. The advisory board member’s engineering firm is not a vendor of the city. The District is an independent special taxing district and has not appeared before the marine advisory board. However, given the types of projects the District oversees, it may need to appear before the advisory board at some point in the future. The COE held that the advisory board member was not prohibited from serving on the advisory board. The COE, however, stated that the advisory board member must make sure he does not vote or participate on an issue coming before his board that would give a special financial benefit to himself, his outside employer or business, or a customer or client of his outside employer or business, which was not shared with similarly situated members of the general public. The advisory board member’s engineering firm qualified as his “outside employer or business.” The District, although a governmental entity, qualified as a “customer or client” of the advisory board member’s “outside employer or business.” The COE concluded that the advisory board member needed to examine each issue coming before his board to determine if a conflict existed. In cases where a recommendation from the advisory board to the city council could result in a special financial benefit to the advisory board member, his engineering firm, or the District, the advisory board member must publicly disclose the nature of the conflict, file the required state disclosure form, refrain from voting and not participate in, or otherwise influence the process.
- Town of Gulf Stream et al vs. Palm Beach County, and Sharon R. Bock, as Clerk and Comptroller of Palm Beach County, Intervenor
Case No. 502011CA017953XXXXMB. Inspector General Funding Lawsuit.
Fourteen municipalities have sued Palm Beach County challenging the method of funding for the Inspector General program. The municipalities contend that the current funding method is an unlawful tax and invades municipal home rule budgetary authority. The Trial Judge denied the Inspector General’s motion to intervene in the case and the IG appealed. The appeal is currently pending in the Fourth District Court of Appeal. On December 17, 2012, the Fourth District issued an order expediting the appeal. On January 28, 2013, Appellee Palm Beach County requested oral argument, which was granted. Oral argument is set for March 19, 2013. On January 31, 2013, the Trial Court entered an order denying the Municipalities’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. This means that the next step in the Trial Court case is to proceed to trial once the Inspector General’s appeal has concluded.
- City of Orlando and Lasercraft, Inc. vs. Michael Udowychenko, etc.,
Case Number SC12-1471. Red Light Cameras.
This case was reported on at the July 2012 League meeting and the details are contained in the July Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. On November 6, 2012, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the case. On January 3, 2013, the City of Orlando filed its initial brief. On January 25, 2013, the Florida League of Cities filed amicus curiae brief in support of the City of Orlando. No further action has been taken by the Florida Supreme Court at this time.
- City of Palm Bay vs. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,
Case Number SC11-830. Superiority of Code Enforcement Liens.
This case was reported on at the July 2012 League meeting and the details are contained in the July Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. No further action has been taken by the Florida Supreme Court at this time.
- RLI Live Oak LLC v. South Florida Water Management District
Case Number SC12-2336. New Heightened Evidentiary Burden To Enforce Regulatory Programs Through Monetary Penalties.
This case was reported on at the January 2013 League meeting and the details are contained in the January 2013 Legal Update, which is located on the League’s website. No further action has been taken by the Florida Supreme Court at this time.