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Judge: Florida's specialty license plate law is unconstitutional

ORLANDO

License plate law ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that a Florida law allowing the Legislature to decide whether a group can get a specialty license plate is unconstitutional.

Judge John Antoon said Thursday that Florida's specialty license plate law limited the speech of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Antoon also said the law gave the Florida Legislature the ability to decline an application for a specialty license plate based on a group's viewpoint.

The Confederate group's application was approved by the Florida motor vehicle agency and a bill to create a "Confederate heritage" license plate was introduced in the Legislature in 2008.

But no action was ever taken on the bill.

MIAMI

Federal investigation of shootings advances

The U.S. Justice Department is moving forward with a federal legislator's request for a federal review of the fatal shootings of seven black suspects by Miami police officers.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., wrote Attorney General Eric Holder in February asking for a federal investigation.

In a letter dated Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich says the criminal and special litigation sections of the Civil Rights Division will "carefully review the information you have provided to determine what, if any, action is appropriate pursuant to their statutory authority." The shootings of six men and one 16-year-old boy took place between July and February.

Police Chief Miguel Exposito has defended his officers.

The Miami State Attorney's Office is investigating each of the shootings. None of those reviews is completed.

MIAMI

County adds poetic touch to public areas

Drivers stuck in Miami traffic will have something else to read besides their text messages: poems on the sides of county buses.

The mobile poetry is one slice of the monthlong O, Miami poetry festival that began Friday. Organizers P. Scott Cunningham and Peter Borrebach say they want every person in Miami-Dade County to experience a poem during April.

Poets will collaborate with other arts organizations to perform in restaurants, galleries and libraries. Poems also will be displayed at Everglades National Park and on banners flying over South Beach. O, Miami concludes April 30 after a series of readings by U.S. poet laureate W. S. Merwin, actor James Franco and others.

Elsewhere

Orlando: A confrontation outside the Laughing Horse Tavern early Friday left a gunman dead and two others wounded, including an Orange County deputy. Both survivors suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

ORLANDO: Cindy Anthony, who is charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter, Casey Anthony, said in a hearing Friday that she used air freshener to get rid of a foul smell in a car that prosecutors believe may have held the toddler's body.

Times wires

Judge: Florida's specialty license plate law is unconstitutional 04/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 12:02am]

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