Taxpayers out $822,470 for Anthony case
The Orange County Sheriff's Office spent nearly $300,000 investigating the Casey Anthony case, bringing the estimated investigative and prosecution costs attributed to the case to more than half a million dollars. It also brings the documented cost in public dollars spent on the case overall to more than $822,470. The prosecution has announced plans to try to have Anthony pay for some of the investigative and prosecution costs.
Court asked to okay new vote law
Florida's top election official said he asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., rather than the Justice Department to approve a new state election law on Friday because he wants the decision to be free of "outside influence." Opponents of the Republican-sponsored law contend it's designed to suppress turnout by minorities who tend to vote Democratic. Secretary of State Kurt Browning disputed that argument in his request for a declaratory judgment from a three-judge panel. He wants the court instead of Attorney General Eric Holder to decide if the law complies with the federal Voting Rights Act. Republicans say the law is needed to prevent voting fraud. Howard Simon, Florida executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the court filing is a political move by Browning and his boss, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, which will cost taxpayers more in legal expenses than leaving the decision to Holder. "They will spend whatever it takes to suppress the vote in Florida," Simon said. "With the Aug. 8 decision looming, Rick Scott and Kurt Browning clearly thought they were going to lose so they've resorted to these last-second legal shenanigans."
Ethics Commission writes off old fines
The Florida Ethics Commission drew a line on writing off old financial disclosure fines Friday. The panel refused to give up on collecting more than $15,000 in fines levied in 2002 from 15 people still holding state and local government jobs or offices. The commissioners excluded them from a unanimously passed motion to write off as uncollectable about $165,000 in fines owed that year by 137 other violators who no longer are active. That's on top of about $200,000 in fines written off last month for 2001. More writeoffs are expected in the coming months under a new law that kicked debt-collection efforts back to the commission and other agencies from the Department of Financial Services. The ethics fines are for errors and omissions on financial disclosure forms or failing to file them.
Court refuses to lift execution stay
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to lift a stay of execution ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. The federal justices Friday rejected a request by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to vacate the stay for Manuel Valle. The 61-year-old convict had been scheduled for execution by lethal injection this coming Tuesday for fatally shooting a Coral Gables police officer 33 years ago. The Florida justices, though, stayed the execution and ordered a Miami judge to hold a fact-finding hearing on a change in the state's lethal injection procedure. That hearing will continue next week. It focuses on the safety and effectiveness of a new chemical that Florida plans to use as part of its three-drug lethal injection cocktail.