It is probably safe to say that any case that has made its way to the Florida Supreme Court is a significant one. It has been a while, however, since one week of oral arguments scheduled before the Court involved as many cases of wide-ranging economic, social, and even political impact, as this coming week of October 1.

The first of the heavyweights before the Court is Florida Board of Bar Examiners Re: Question as to Whether Undocumented Immigrants are Eligible for Admission to the Florida Bar, to be heard on October 2 at 9:00am. Few case names are as descriptive as this one; the issue before the court will be whether Florida law precludes undocumented immigrants from being members of the bar. The Board of Bar Examiners has completed its character and fitness examination of the applicant, and has stated that it does not see any issues, with the possible exception of immigrant status, that might prevent granting bar membership. The applicant contends, among other things, that there is no rule adopted by the Board that would permit denying the application for bar membership based on undocumented status alone. See “Applying for Membership to the Bar” dated April 14, 2012, below for more discussion.

Immediately following the Board of Bar Examiners’ case, scheduled for the morning of October 2 as well is the case of D.M.T. v.T.M.H., which will decide the contours of parental rights in same-sex relationships involving surrogate parents. This decision may provide insight to the Court’s stance toward same-sex legal issues generally. See the “Scrambled Eggs” below, dated April 11, 2012, for a more comprehensive treatment of the facts and legal issues involved in this case.

Thursday, October 4, sees two more significant cases before the Court, these dealing with separation of powers in state government. Graham, et al. v. Haridopolos, et al. pits the Board of Governors of the state university system against the legislature in a dispute over the meaning of Article IX, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution, and whether that constitutional provision transferred the traditional power of the legislature to make expenditures for state universities to the Board of Governors. If the Board of Governors prevails, its power to control tuition and fees in the state university system will be clarified.

The second case to be heard on Thursday is Southern Alliance for Clean Energy v. Graham, et al. That case is concerned with a direct challenge to the Public Service Commission’s authority to approve cost recovery charges for the benefit of utilities that are developing nuclear facilities, on the basis that there have been no adequate standards imposed on the PSC by the legislature. The potential impact of this decision on the development of nuclear power in this state is clear.

Make sure your fantasy litigation team lineup is updated, this week at the Florida Supreme Court is sure to be action-packed. The full calendar for the week is available here. You can watch the oral arguments streaming live here .

A High Profile Week for the Florida Supreme Court

2 thoughts on “A High Profile Week for the Florida Supreme Court

  • May 21, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I have been denied entry into the Florida bar based upon thousands of papers retrieved, lost papers by the board of bar examiners, and what I believe were misstatements or lack of candor and misrepresentation by the general counsel.
    Although a case with an unlawful immigrant is interesting, the law is clear. He has been here unlawfully, has been given the opportunity to attend state schools at tax payer expense and now wants to be admitted to the bar. Obviously, if he came here from a foreign country to study law, there would be no problem and the country would gain an intelligent person.
    However, that is not the case here, he knows he is here unlawfully, he has studied law and should know the law. Why would this question be before the florida supreme court unless, the FBBE believe that they cannot interpret clear law. there is no question here that should be before the Florida Supreme Court. However, after having observed the FBBE general counsel misrepresent issues in my case, I can understand why he wants to punt on an issue like this. Another issue that appears to be present in the FBBE is an executive director who, I believe, is issuing and signing legal determinations (if anyone else did that, it might be prosecuted as UPL>) It appears that the FBBE has more than one double standard and should have an over-site agency.

    • May 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Thank you for your comment. The matter before the FBBE is not as simple as “Mr. Godinez-Samperio is undocumented, therefore his application must be denied.” (You can see a summary of the respective arguments here: , though I would recommend reading the applicant’s petition, available at the Florida Supreme Court website).

      The FBBE must have a legal basis to deny an applicant. It has conceded that there are no character and fitness concerns with this applicant, except for potentially immigration status. And while the FBBE asks for immigration status from applicants, this applicant is arguing that there is no Bar rule that specifically provides that an undocumented/illegal immigrant is not qualified to be admitted to the Bar. Additionally, the recent change in federal policy (agree with it or not) that people such as the applicant will not be targeted for deportation proceedings, and indeed will be permitted to work legally, might even preempt any FBBE action against the employee based solely on immigration status (remember, the feds have plenary power to regulate immigration). Mr. Godinez-Samperio was recently cleared to work legally by the feds.

      There are a number of pretty big issues at play, and it should be interesting in any case to see where the Supreme Court comes out in this matter.


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