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Thread: Paul William Scott - Florida Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Paul William Scott - Florida Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    On the evening of December 4, 1978, Paul Scott, and his co-defendant, Richard Kondian, murdered James Alessi in his home. A witness, Charles Soutullo, claimed he was asked to participate in a scheme to rob and murder the victim, but refused. The victim, who knew both men, picked up Scott and Kondian and later returned with them to his home.

    Alessi’s nude body was found on a sofa in his home on December 5, 1978. He was covered with blood and his hands and feet were tightly bound with electrical cord and telephone wire. Alessi had been beaten in the head, chest and on the arms. One blow to the head was so severe that it caused a compressed skull fracture. The cause of death was determined to be a result of the head injuries.

    Evidence indicated a violent struggle took place and attempts were made by the victim to free himself. Throughout the home, there were broken articles and bloodstains were on the walls, furniture, curtains and floors. Scott’s fingerprints were found on various items throughout the home, including the neck of a broken vase and a bloodstained knife found on the sofa where the victim’s body was found.

    After beating Alessi to death, Scott and Kondian rummaged through his house. They later entered his florist and jewelry shop with a key and seized most of the gold jewelry. They also stole Alessi’s car. Scott was apprehended in Sacramento, California, one month after the murder. At the time of his arrest, Scott had in his possession a golden bear charm that was identical to the one that belonged to the victim. Kondian was in Rhode Island when he learned of the warrant issued for his arrest. He surrendered to the Rhode Island police on December 6, 1978.

    Scott was sentenced to death in Palm Beach County on December 4, 1979.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2010
    July 19, 2010

    Paul William Scott has been sitting on Florida’s death row for 31 years.

    In this time, he has been married and divorced two times—his first wife being country singer Susan Stryker, who became involved after writing a song in Scott’s behalf—and has had a book written about his case titled A Circle of Blood.

    According to the Justice for Provably Innocent Paul W. Scott Committee, Fr. Ed McElduff and many others, Scott has been wrongfully accused and “is truly and provably innocent.”

    Eight of Scott’s original jurors have sworn affidavits expressing concern about information that was not revealed to them during the 1979 trial, along with David Ross, Scott’s former prosecutor, who in 1994 appealed for clemency for Scott, feeling the final sentence was unjust.

    In his affidavit to the Court in 1990 Rick Kondian, the man who was with Scott on the night of the murder, wrote, “Paul never intended to kill Alessi or anybody that night and did not intend to harm anybody. He never did murder anybody.” Also, in a letter written to Scott’s sister, Valerie, he wrote, “Paul didn’t do the actual killing.”

    After hiring David Ross, the country’s top criminal defense attorney in the 1970s, Kondian pleaded guilty to second degree murder, received 45 years in prison and served 14 years before being released in 1994, while Scott received the death penalty.

    Scott has survived five death warrants and has had numerous appeals but continues to sit in prison.

    Those who are in favor of Scott’s death penalty have made the argument that several of the men’s statements over the years have been inconsistent with each other and Kondian’s words are being misconstrued.

    Paul Scott is not innocent until the court deems him so, but Scott’s most involved advocates, McElduff, a former Catholic Pennsylvania priest and his Justice for Provably Innocent Paul W. Scott Committee, who for years have visited the prisoner in person, are convinced.

    “It is all stunning and shocking and should be an example of the worst travesty of a Florida criminal trial by both the prosecution and public defender,” said Dianne Skripek, McElduff’s assistant and leader of the Justice.

    Spending 30-plus years on death row as a potentially innocent man is just the tip of the iceberg of Scott’s life experiences.

    Scott was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and after toxic exposure and frontal lobe damage, has an I.Q. of 69, which puts him in the spectrum of being mentally disabled.

    Scott lived with his father in a state of constant confusion and chaos, switching between different stepmothers and homes across the states.

    After suffering years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by his father, he changed his name from George Cook, Jr., to Paul Scott. With nowhere to turn, he began experimenting with drugs at age 11, and was using heroin by 15.

    Scott first befriended Kondian in Fort Lauderdale. In 1979, Scott, then 22, accompanied the 18-year-old Kondian to James Alessi’s house, a man that Kondian had met the night prior.

    The young men were visiting Alessi’s home in West Palm to buy and use drugs. While Scott was in another part of the house, Kondian claims a naked Alessi tried to rape him. Scott heard Kondian’s cry for help and rushed to his side, where both the young men beat Alessi with anything they could find.

    They were both accused of bludgeoning Alessi to death.

    However, in a 1996 letter written to the Palm Beach Post, Scott claims Alessi was alive when he bolted out the door after the electrical cord that he used to tie up Alessi sparked.

    He said Kondian then killed Alessi with a champagne bottle. A bloody circle was found at the scene of the crime—hence the title of Bob Pauley’s novel A Circle of Blood—but a used champagne bottle was never found.

    Instead, jurors at Scott’s trial were told Scott killed Alessi by hitting him with a heavy object and that the murder was predetermined.

    Five years later, a medical examiner’s affidavit stated he never testified what object was used to kill Alessi, and he was never asked whether the fatal blow came from a left- or a right-handed person.

    Despite this, prosecutor Ken Selvig told the jury the blow came from a left-handed person. Kondian was right-handed. Scott was left-handed.

    Currently, McElduff and the Justice are looking for the right attorney.

    “It wouldn’t take much; it doesn’t have to be any dream team,” Skripek said. “They can look right at it and say, ‘I can’t believe this man is in jail, let alone on death row.’”

    McElduff said even the Dean of the College of Law at Notre Dame can agree. The college may be a candidate for representing Paul Scott in a possible future trial.

    “We need an attorney who will face up to the facts, have the courage to follow through and challenge the determination of the state,” McElduff said. “Paul’s former attorneys have lacked these characteristics.”

    Skripek and McElduff said they are feeling very hopeful at the moment, especially due to the recent Florida Innocence Commission, which consists of a group of vindicates that will be reviewing the high number of Florida’s exonerees.

    Father Mac and the Justice see Paul Scott’s case as setting an innocent man free, but they are hoping it will also change aspects of Florida’s judicial system.

    “Paul Scott is truly the poster person for why the death penalty needs to be buried,” Skripek said. “It’s not the answer for victims, for their families who suffer, and certainly not for taxpayers of Florida.”

  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of the Sentence:

    The delay in this case is a result of the number of appeals filed. The defendant’s direct appeal was filed in 1980. He has subsequently filed numerous motions in circuit court and Habeas Petitions with the State Supreme Court. The appeals all appear to have been handled expeditiously, and in the appropriate court, however; there were numerous appeals for the courts to consider.

    Case Information:

    On 01/31/80, Scott filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In his direct appeal, Scott argued several issues. First, he argued that the evidence provided by the State was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and did not exclude a reasonable hypothesis of innocence. He also contended that evidence did not support a finding of premeditation, robbery or burglary. Scott argued that error occurred when the court sustained the State’s objection on the basis of irrelevance to the question asked of a State witness by defense counsel. Scott also argued that the court gave erroneous jury instructions on the felony-murder rule and that jury selection occurred on a Jewish religious holiday, excluding a segment of the community from selection. He argued that the court erred in finding that the murder occurred during the commission of, or attempt to commit robbery and/or burglary, and was for pecuniary gain and was cruel. Scott’s final arguments were that a journalist was erroneously excluded from providing testimony and that Florida’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional. The court found no merit in Scott arguments and affirmed his conviction and sentence of death on 10/20/82.

    Scott then filed both a Petition for Writ Habeas Corpus on 05/31/83. The petition was denied on 06/03/83.

    On 06/03/83, Scott filed a federal Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United District Court. The District Court granted a Stay of Execution to allow Scott to seek relief in state court on 06/06/83. On 05/26/88, the petition was denied and the stay of execution was vacated on 06/05/88.

    Scott then filed his first 3.850 Motion in Circuit Court on 02/16/84. This motion was immediately denied without prejudice, because the Trial Court claimed the defendant did not properly swear to the motion.

    On 03/26/84, Scott filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Scott’s 3.850 Motion on 01/10/85.

    Scott then filed the corrected 3.850 Motion on 12/27/85. The main issue raised was ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied this motion on 07/23/86.

    On 09/17/86, Scott filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. The court affirmed the denial of Scott’s 3.850 Motion on 08/20/87.

    Scott filed a Habeas Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit on 06/05/88. The court affirmed the denial of Scott’s Habeas Appeal on 12/14/89.

    On 06/08/90, Scott filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari. The petition was denied on 10/01/90.

    The Governor signed Scott’s second death warrant on 10/19/90. The Florida Supreme Court granted a stay on 10/29/90 to allow new postconviction counsel the opportunity to file a second 3.850 Motion.

    Scott filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on 10/26/90. The petition was denied on 11/04/93.

    Scott subsequently filed another 3.850 in Circuit Court on 12/18/90. Scott asserted that relief should be granted on account that allegedly new statements had been made by his codefendant and a witness had recanted his testimony. The trial court denied relief on 03/06/91 without an evidentiary hearing.

    On 04/18/91, Scott filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In the appeal, Scott made several claims. First, he claimed that error occurred in the Circuit Court ruling on his second 3.850 Motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. Next, he claimed that newly discovered evidence established his innocence. He also contended that his codefendant’s sentence of 45 years rendered his disproportionate, he was erroneously denied an opportunity to present exculpatory evidence and he was denied effective assistance of counsel. Scott’s final claims were that the prosecutor improperly argued inapplicable aggravating factors, and his sentence was unconstitutionally founded on arbitrary, capricious, and impermissible evidence. On 02/24/94, the court found Scott’s appeal to be without merit and affirmed the denial of his 3.850 Motion.

    A third death warrant was signed by Governor Lawton Chiles on 09/30/94. The Florida Supreme Court granted a stay of execution on 11/18/94.

    Scott filed his fourth 3.850 Motion on 10/31/94. Scott claimed there was newly-discovered evidence and the State violated the Brady rule. (Brady V. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83.) Scott alleged that the State violated the rule by not disclosing a statement made by a cellmate of Richard Kondian, his codefendant. The inmate claimed he told an officer that Kondian admitted to killing the victim. Scott also claimed that another inmate related to police that Kondian stated he was angry with Scott for “running out on him” and not participating in the murder. The motion was denied on 11/08/94.

    On 10/31/94, Scott also filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States Circuit Court. On 11/07/94, the court denied the Rule 60(b) and granted a Certificate of Probable Cause. The Certificate was denied on 11/10/94.

    On 11/02/94, Scott filed a Habeas Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals. The court affirmed the denial of Scott’s Habeas Petition on 11/14/94.

    Scott filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 11/09/94. On 03/16/95, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on these issues and remanded the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing.

    On 11/14/94, Scott filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court. The petition was denied on 03/16/95.

    Scott then filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. The petition was denied on 06/19/95.

    On 04/23/96, Scott’s remanded 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court was denied.

    Scott appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Florida Supreme Court on 07/22/96. In his 3.850 Appeal, he claimed that the court erred in allowing the assistant state counsel to serve as both prosecutor and witness and erred in denying his seven motions to disqualify the judge. He also claimed that error occurred in the scheduling of the evidentiary hearing, holding the hearing without him present and denying his motions to continue the hearing and to depose certain witnesses. Scott also claimed that the trial court erroneously excluded certain evidence from the evidentiary hearing and that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. The court disagreed with all of Scott’s claims. On 03/26/98, the court affirmed the denial of Scott’s 3.850 Motion.

    On 09/14/98, Scott filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court. The petition was denied on 11/02/98.

    On 06/23/03, Scott filed another 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court. The motion was denied on 10/21/03.

    Scott filed a 3.853 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 12/14/05 and amended the motion on 03/20/06. Scott amended the 3.853 motion a second time on 06/07/06. On 08/14/06, the Circuit Court denied the motion.

    On 09/18/07, Scott filed a Notice of Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court regarding the 3.853 motion denied by the Circuit Court. Oral arguments were held on 09/03/09. On 10/15/09, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the motion. A mandate was issued on 01/27/10.

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Death row inmate cites conspiracy, wants new lawyer

    After 32 years, convicted murderer Paul Scott finally got the chance Monday to tell a judge about the powers that he says have conspired to keep him on death row.

    The 55-year-old, who was sentenced to death for the 1978 bludgeoning death of Boca Raton florist James Alessi, was given the rare opportunity to leave the state's most secure prison to appear in court to explain why he wanted a new attorney. Strapped in leg-irons with handcuffs tightly binding his wrists, he insisted he was innocent.

    "I did not kill Mr. Alessi. I did not help kill Mr. Alessi. I was not there when Mr. Alessi was killed," Scott said as four supporters looked on, weeping. "Where is justice in this state? I've got 32 years for a murder I didn't do."

    Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Richard Oftedal tried to keep Scott from rehashing one of the bloodiest crimes in county history. He tried to keep him from detailing his contention that co-defendant, Richard Kondian, delivered the fatal blows.

    But an emotional Scott insisted that former Gov. Jeb Bush cut a deal with those who were trying to prove his innocence. "If I continued to pursue appeals, I was going to be executed," he said.

    The deal, he said, has prevented his current attorney, Stephen Finta, from vigorously defending him. "I believe this man to be an honorable attorney, but I feel he became afraid," Scott said.

    Finta declined to say whether the alleged deal made him timid. But, in a 2010 letter to the now-defunct Florida Commission on Capital Cases, Finta wrote: "I was told by an attorney in West Palm Beach, Mark Wilensky, that there was an agreement with the state to not press for another death warrant if the defendant's counsel did not try to reopen the liability phase of the case."

    Reached later, Wilensky declined comment.

    Instead of addressing Scott's allegations, Finta told Oftedal that Scott refuses his advice. With an IQ of 69 and a host of psychological ills, Scott could try to block his execution by arguing that the state can't kill the disabled. Scott refuses.

    Longtime supporters from a Pennsylvania church attended the hearing and said Scott's death sentence is unjust.

    Jane Bunch, said both men killed her brother. Reached after the hearing, she said her parents accepted Kondian's plea because he was 18 and had no criminal record. Scott, 22, was on parole for a California murder.

    "They hurt my brother. They tortured my brother and it was planned," Bunch said. "He's a murderer. He should be executed."

    Oftedal said he soon would rule on whether Scott will get a new attorney.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On March 27, 2013, Scott filed a successive habeas petition in Federal District Court.


  6. #6
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    James Alessi: Family of murdered Boca man has new hope that his killer will be executed

    Murdered man's family has new hope in legislation

    By Evan Axelbank

    BOCA RATON, Fla. - The state legislature has had it with lengthy stays on Florida's death row. And now, the governor is weighing a bill that could speed the legal battle over executions.

    All Jane Alessi has are pictures of her brother - James Alessi - and hope that his convicted killer will face the penalty prescribed to him in 1979.

    "My dad passed away last year and he thought he would see the execution," said Alessi.

    But the Alessi family has waited for longer than 28-year-old James' entire life to see Paul Scott die.

    A jury found that Scott beat Alessi to death.

    But appeals, pleas for new lawyers and anger from activist groups who say Scott didn't do it have held things up.

    Four death warrants signed, still no death.

    "He gets stays. Nobody gave my brother a chance that night," said Alessi.

    Lawmakers have sent legislation to the governor that shortens appeals time and requires the governor to sign death warrants a month after state courts review the case, and that executions occur within six months of the warrant's signing.

    "Opponents of this bill say that this basically guarantees innocent people are going to be executed," said NewsChannel5 Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer. "People have been exonerated who have been on death row."

    But Alessi says she's confident that in her brother's case, the right decision has been made. Now she's hoping for closure, after nearly 35 years.

    "Eye for an eye tooth for a tooth. Nobody gave my brother a second chance. They wanted to set him up, go there and kill him. And they did," said Alessi.

    The bill now awaits signature or veto from Governor Scott.


  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Probe Ordered Of Lauderdale Death Penalty Attorney

    In a highly unusual move, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga has ordered an investigation of a death penalty lawyer who has repeatedly missed critical deadlines, was involved in a capital case in which roach-infested boxes of documents were destroyed by rain and who is currently representing two inmates who are trying to fire her.

    Labarga ordered the probe of Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mary Catherine Bonner “pursuant to the Court’s authority to monitor the representation of capital defendants to ensure that the defendants receive quality representation” on November 8th, seven months after prominent death-penalty lawyer Martin McClain wrote to the court outlining concerns about Bonner.

    Bonner, included in a registry of lawyers appointed by the court to represent Florida Death Row inmates in post-conviction appeals, was rebuked by a federal judge several years ago for failing on two separate occasions to meet a one-year deadline to file habeas corpus petitions. Such federal appeals provide inmates a last chance to have their convictions reviewed on a variety of grounds.

    In this month’s administrative order, Labarga appointed 3rd District Court of Appeal Judge Kevin Emas as the referee in the Bonner investigation and named Belvin Perry, a former 9th Judicial Circuit chief judge who presided over the Casey Anthony murder trial, to serve as special counsel to the referee.

    Labarga gave Emas 90 days to complete the inquiry and file a report on Bonner.

    “The referee shall make findings of fact and recommend any necessary remedial action, including the removal of Mary Catherine Bonner from the registry for postconviction capital attorneys, if appropriate,” the two-page order said.

    Bonner did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

    Numerous death-penalty legal experts told The News Service of Florida that Labarga’s order appeared to be the first of its kind.

    Florida’s death penalty has been under scrutiny for nearly a year, since the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, issued a ruling in January that struck down the state’s capital sentencing system as unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries.

    State lawmakers hurriedly passed a new law intended to fix the deficiency, but the Florida Supreme Court last month overturned that law because it did not require unanimous jury recommendations for the death penalty to be imposed.

    Labarga ordered the Bonner investigation after McClain sent a letter April 4 to the clerk of the Florida Supreme Court raising alarms about two Death Row inmates, Alphonso Cave and Paul William Scott, whom Bonner represents in state court. Cave and Scott have independently asked the court to dismiss Bonner from their cases; both men alleged that their lawyer went for years without contacting them. McClain represented Scott for a period over a decade ago, as well as Cave’s co-defendant, who has since been executed.

    McClain also wrote about Bonner’s court-appointed representation of two Death Row inmates — including Mark James Asay, whose pending execution was put on hold by the Florida Supreme Court earlier this year. McClain now represents the two Death Row inmates.

    In 2009, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan harshly criticized Bonner for filing federal appeals in the cases of Asay and William Greg Thomas more than 200 days after a one-year deadline had run out.

    Bonner blamed the delays in part on health problems both she and her husband had undergone, but the Jacksonville judge was not appeased.

    “The terms ‘bad faith’ or ‘dishonesty’ capture Ms. Bonner’s conduct and are the type of egregious conduct that rises well above professional negligence or even gross negligence,” Corrigan wrote of Bonner’s handling of Asay’s petitions in 2009.

    Bonner’s delays in filing the federal appeals prompted Corrigan to grant “equitable tolling” in both cases, allowing the missed deadlines to be ignored.

    The Florida Attorney General’s office, which represents the state in capital cases, opposed giving the inmates more time to file the federal appeals but maintained that Bonner’s conduct warranted sanctions.

    Even so, the state opposes allowing inmates whom Bonner currently represents to fire her.

    In March, Cave sent a hand-written letter to the Supreme Court requesting that Bonner be terminated as his attorney, saying he had not seen her in four years and she had not responded to his letters and calls.

    Cave — whom Bonner has represented for nearly half of the more than three decades he has spent on Death Row — was concerned about the impact of the Hurst ruling on his case. That decision prompted the state court to put the scheduled executions of Asay and Cary Michael Lambrix on hold indefinitely.

    In April, Bonner asked the state court to keep her on as Cave’s lawyer, saying she “took a very bad fall” and broke her shoulder. Bonner went on to describe in detail problems she encountered during her recovery, including “a terrible adverse reaction to pain medication” and lengthy waits at the hospital where she was being treated.

    Bonner — who has a clean record with The Florida Bar — also wrote to Cave, asking him to keep her on as his attorney.

    “I care about your fate and will vigorously litigate on your behalf,” she wrote to the inmate on April 3.

    In a hand-written response to the court dated April 11, Cave wrote that he simply wanted a lawyer who would file the appropriate documents on his behalf.

    “It is unfortunate and just not right that I had to write this Honorable Court to get my lawyer to correspond with me,” Cave, 57, wrote.

    Cave’s letter is the latest document posted in his case on the Florida Supreme Court website.

    Scott also asked the court to remove Bonner as his lawyer in state court. After the court refused that request, Scott appealed. That appeal is pending, according to the state court website.

    Asay’s case became the focus of attention earlier this year.

    McClain took over Asay’s case in January, shortly after Gov. Rick Scott set a March execution date for the convicted double murderer.

    After being sentenced to die, Asay went for a decade without legal representation, and almost all of the paper records involving his case went missing or were destroyed.

    McClain described difficulties he encountered trying to retrieve documents from Bonner, who had served as Asay’s lawyer in the federal appeals.

    “Despite the exigencies created by Mr. Asay’s pending death warrant, she repeatedly delayed ascertaining and advising what files she had. About a week into the warrant, she had four mold and insect infested boxes delivered to my office. One of the boxes was largely empty. All of the material in the boxes had been exposed to water and was ruined. The prevalence of mold made the boxes a health hazard,” McClain wrote to Florida Supreme Court Clerk John Tomasino on April 4.

    Bonner later delivered more boxes to McClain “after they had been left outside in a driving rain storm,” he continued.

    The boxes were “completely waterlogged” and “were literally disintegrating as they were carried to my office,” he wrote.
    Much of the material in the boxes was unrelated to Asay’s case, according to McClain’s letter.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  8. #8
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Scott's petition for a writ of certiorari was DENIED.

    Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Florida
    Case Numbers: (SC17-2045)
    Decision Date: April 6, 2018
    Rehearing Denied: October 24, 2018


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