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Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer

Anna M. Phillips

Anna M. Phillips writes about legal affairs and criminal justice in Tampa and Hillsborough County. Before joining the Times in 2012, she covered the New York City public schools for the New York Times and for the education news website Chalkbeat New York (formerly GothamSchools).

Phone: (813) 226-3354

Email: aphillips@tampabay.com

Twitter: @annamphillips

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  1. Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 3, Robin Fernandez Fuson v. Carl Hinson

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    Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 3

    This race for an open seat will decide whether Robin Fernandez Fuson or Carl Hinson replaces Circuit Judge Manuel A. Lopez, who is retiring. Both candidates have run for office before — Fuson for Hillsborough State Attorney, and Hinson for judge — and both are in private practice. Fuson focuses on criminal defense and Hinson has devoted his career to personal injury law. ...

  2. Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 24, Isabel Cissy Boza Sevelin v. Gary Dolgin v. Melissa Polo v. Lanell Williams-Yulee

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    Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 24

    This race for an open seat has drawn four candidates to replace retiring Circuit Judge William Fuente. Three of the candidates — Gary Dolgin, Melissa Polo, and Lanell Williams-Yulee — have run for judge before and the fourth, Isabel "Cissy" Boza Sevelin, is a newcomer to Hillsborough politics. All of them are sole practitioners.

    About the job: Circuit judges are elected on a nonpartisan basis to a six-year term. They preside over criminal and civil cases in Hillsborough County, handling felonies, such as murder and robbery, as well as divorces, juvenile cases, probate and guardianship and lawsuits alleging damages in excess of $15,000. The job pays $146,079.96 a year....

    Melissa "Missy" Polo, candidate for Hillsborough County Circuit Judge, Group 34
  3. Judge sentences former Riverview substitute teacher to prison

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Samuel Bullock Jr., a former substitute teacher for the Hillsborough County School District, was sentenced Friday to more than two years in state prison for sending nude photographs of himself to a teenage student.

    Fired in the fall of 2015 when news broke of the charges against him, Bullock pleaded guilty to transmitting harmful material to a minor, as well as two other third-degree felonies. He asked Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez for leniency....

    Samuel Bullock Jr. sent nude photos to a 14-year-old. He will be labeled a sex offender.
  4. Florida may be running out of execution drug, records show

    Courts

    Florida may be running out of the controversial and difficult-to-procure sedative that the state uses to execute prisoners on death row.

    Records of the state's lethal injection drug supply logs show that Florida has not purchased midazolam in over a year. The logs, which are maintained by the state Department of Corrections, indicate that while Florida may still have 250 vials of the drug — enough for at least 12 executions — it is possible the drug has either already expired or will likely expire by the end of this year....

    Records show that Florida has not purchased midazolam in over a year and that whatever supply is left is quite old.
  5. Florida Supreme Court will reprimand Hillsborough judge

    Courts

    TAMPA — The Florida Supreme Court will publicly reprimand a Hillsborough judge for his attempts to secure a more lenient sentence for a former U.S. Army Green Beret charged with multiple felonies, the court announced Thursday.

    The circuit judge, Gregory Holder, was accused of overstepping his bounds by Hillsborough's chief assistant state attorney, who said the judge asked him to reduce the defendant's remaining community control to probation without conducting a hearing in open court. ...

    Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory  Holder sought a more lenient sentence for a veteran.
  6. Jury acquits Tampa nurse in fatal hit-and-run

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After two trials that ended in hung juries, the legal saga of a former Tampa General Hospital nurse concluded on Thursday when a jury found her not guilty of killing a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident.

    The nurse, Danielle Goeller, 28, was acquitted despite prosecutors' insistence that she had to have known she had hit a human being with her car.

    "This picture speaks a thousand words," said Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Steven Capriati, showing jurors a photograph of Goeller's shattered windshield. She had been driving east on Kennedy Boulevard, approaching Armenia Avenue, when she struck Philip Richard Barrett, 60, who had stepped into the roadway. He died at the scene; Goeller drove home....

    Danielle Goeller’s defense maintained she never saw any signs that she had hit a man.
  7. Security firm that employed Orlando gunman goes to court in Hillsborough

    Civil

    TAMPA — G4S Youth Services, an arm of the private security company that employed the gunman who killed 49 people earlier this month in Orlando, is taking its former president to court in Hillsborough County.

    In a lawsuit filed in circuit court last week, the company accused its ex-president, James C. Hill Jr., and ex-chief operating officer Brian Neupaver, of unfair and deceptive trade practices and breach of fiduciary duty, among other allegations. ...

  8. Experts find Tampa woman accused of extreme child abuse fit for trial

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Nearly two years after experts pronounced Jamie Hicks paranoid and unstable, the same doctors have decided she is fit to stand trial for starving and physically abusing her eight children.

    Two psychologists who interviewed her several times since her arrest in 2014 said at a hearing Monday that they now believe she is competent.

    She faces charges of child abuse, child neglect and child neglect with great bodily harm. If she is convicted, she could receive a maximum sentence of 160 years in prison....

    Jamie Hicks, 45, charged with multiple counts of child abuse and neglect, was arrested in 2014.
  9. Orlando tattoo artists memorialize the pain of the Pulse nightclub shootings

    Crime

    ORLANDO — Days after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 at the Pulse nightclub, a young woman walked into Robby Charneco's tattoo shop. The night of the shooting, she was one of the 911 dispatchers who picked up the phone when people called, screaming for help. She wanted ink to remember.

     

    ZACK WITTMAN | Times...

    Chelsea McCarthy of Orlando gets a free tattoo from Angel "Evil Tattu" Ruiza at Anarchy Tattoos and Art Co. in Orlando on Friday in memory of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. "Yeah, I know Angel," says McCarthy, remembering  Angel Santiago, a survivor who spoke to reporters about his story inside the club. "I work next door to him, and I know he goes out all the time. I woke up the next day and saw he was there on Facebook. I was scared." [ZACK WITTMAN | Times]
  10. In Orlando, the gravedigger's work begins

    News

    ORLANDO — It wasn't until Tuesday that the gravedigger woke up to the enormity of the task before him.

    For Juan DeLeon, 33, the murders of 49 people in a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando on Sunday morning were an unspeakable tragedy. His wife knew two of the victims from her job at Universal Orlando. While their deaths struck him as most deaths don't, it wasn't until later that he realized the role he would play....

    Cemetery worker Juan DeLeon digs the second of three graves with a backhoe at Greenwood Cemetery, near downtown Orlando on Thursday, June 16, 2016.  The three graves are for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.  The funerals are expected on Friday and Saturday.   Special to the Times   |   WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.
  11. Family, friends mourn Christopher Sanfeliz, 24, Tampa victim of Orlando's Pulse shooting

    Public Safety

    CARROLLWOOD — An entourage of law enforcement officers visited the home of Carlos Sanfeliz on Monday morning to deliver grim news.

    But Sanfeliz already had an idea of what they came to say. His phone "was blowing up" Sunday morning with people inquiring about his son, 24-year-old Christopher Sanfeliz, and he had spent the rest of the day driving and waiting at an Orlando hospital for word on the young man's fate....

    Tampa native Christopher Sanfeliz, who was killed in the Pulse night club shooting, worked as a personal banker. 
  12. Attack at Orlando gay nightclub is deadliest in U.S. history

    News

    A reggaeton song was pounding in the club's speakers as Jeannette McCoy, 37, danced close to her friend Angel in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

    Dozens of sweaty people packed the floor at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse. Club lights threw patches of purple across the dance floor. As one song ended, McCoy waited for the DJ to play another, but instead she heard a very different sound.

    "It was just pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop," she said. "The shots were continuous."...

    The bodies of two victims of the shooting arrive at the Orlando Medical Examiner’s Office on Sunday. Only eight of the 50 people killed have been identified.
  13. Killer pledged allegiance to Islamic State before executing worst mass shooting in U.S. history; death toll at 50

    Public Safety

    A reggaeton song was pounding in the club's speakers as Jeannette McCoy, 37, danced close to her friend Angel in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

    Dozens of sweaty people packed the floor at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse. Club lights threw patches of purple across the dance floor. As one song ended, McCoy waited for the DJ to play another, but instead she heard a very different sound.

    "It was just pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop," she said. "The shots were continuous."...

    Emergency personnel wait with stretchers Sunday morning for the arrival of patents from the Pulse nightclub at the emergency entrance to Orlando Regional Medical Center. [Associated Press]
  14. For young boxers in St. Pete, Ali's legacy lives on

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sweat flew in every direction in Dan Birmingham's boxing gym on Saturday afternoon, as young fighters sparred under worn photographs of the greats.

    Inside the St. Pete Boxing Club, a venerable institution known for training some of the most gifted boxers in the country, it was a typical day. There in the ring was Keith "One Time" Thurman, WBA welterweight champion, preparing for his big fight next month against Shawn Porter. Edner Cherry, 33, a two-time world title challenger, ripped into a heavy bag while, in the back of the room, 22-year-old My'cheal Teal — "the top amateur prospect in this area," Birmingham said — did sit ups in front of a mirror....

    Muhammad Ali changes into boxing shoes at Curtis Hixon Hall before refereeing a promotional fight between two Tampa fighters in the early 1970s.
  15. Charlotte Anderson, Hillsborough judge and equal rights activist, dies at 72

    Obituaries

    TAMPA — Charlotte Anderson, a former Hillsborough County judge who helped create a division dedicated solely to victims of domestic violence, died last month at age 72.

    Elected to the bench in 1994, Ms. Anderson presided over domestic violence cases, as well as run-of-the-mill civil suits, for 15 years. She was well-known as a champion of many causes, from women's rights to antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians, and a fixture in local Democratic Party politics....

    Retired Hillsborough Circuit Judge Charlotte Anderson, left, appears with Ms. magazine founder, author and activist Gloria Steinem in 2015 at the first Helen Gordon Davis Waves of Change Luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Tampa Westshore. Anderson, who helped create a division dedicated solely to victims of domestic violence, died last month at the age of 72. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  TIMES]